Back in August we wrote about Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, a massive installation of more than 800,000 red ceramic poppies at the Tower of London. The somber and frightening installation by theater set designer Tom Piper and ceramic artist Paul Cummins was to commemorate British servicepeople who lost their lives in World War I, a single poppy for each casualty.
The project was completed in time for Remembrance Sunday. Below is a drone flyover video showing the finished project:
The flowers were removed after Remembrance Sunday and will be sold for £25 each, the proceeds from which go to benefit veterans organizations within the UK.
We wrote back in August that death statistics from World War I are so hard to visualize that they become almost meaningless. A success of this project was in how it confronted the viewer with the reality of those numbers, holding one’s attention with a wave of red which is eerily reminiscent of flowing blood. The horror of war and the human beings it devoured cannot be abstracted in such a visual.
The Mirror picked up a “haunting” emergent message from the piece as it was being deconstructed. Rain combined with volunteers taking the poppies away turned the lawn into a field of mud:
“The blood red field of poppies that made a nation weep is now a haunting sea of mud.
“It looked almost as if nature herself had wanted to add a fitting final touch to Britain’s moving tribute to her First World War dead…
“The area where they stood instead recalled a sodden Flanders battlefield – transformed by tears of rain.”
The Telegraph reported that Cummins and Piper will be recognized in the Queen’s New Years honors list. They will both be appointed OBES for services to the arts.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
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