I’m interrupting the tale of my parents’ journey around China to tell you about this installation at the Tower of London. Like Unwoven Light, I first read about it on Colossal and have now been to visit.
The Derby based ceramic artist Paul Cummins has made 888,246 ceramic poppies to commemorate each of the British and Colonial fatalities in the First World War. Stage designer Tom Piper had designed their display in the dry moat around the Tower of London. The installation started on 5 August 2014, the centenary of the declaration of war and will be completed on 11 November 2014, the anniversary of the end of the war in 1918.
The poppies are being planted by volunteers and you can volunteer through this page to plant poppies on a Thursday or Sunday between now and 25 October. The ceramic poppies are also for sale, despatched to their owners after 11 November 2014. You can buy one for £25 each from this page
Update: I went and planted poppies on 23rd October and wrote about that here, and all the poppies are sold.
The inspiration for the installation was a WW1 poem by an unknown Soldier:
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
The blood swept lands and seas of red,
Where angels dare to tread.
As I put my hand to reach,
As God cried a tear of pain as the angels fell,
Again and again.
As the tears of mine fell to the ground
To sleep with the flowers of red
As any be dead
My children see and work through fields of my
Own with corn and wheat,
Blessed by love so far from pain of my resting
Fields so far from my love.
It be time to put my hand up and end this pain
Of living hell. To see the people around me
Fall someone angel as the mist falls around
And the rain so thick with black thunder I hear
Over the clouds, to sleep forever and kiss
The flower of my people gone before time
To sleep and cry no more
I put my hand up and see the land of red,
This is my time to go over,
I may not come back
So sleep, kiss the boys for me