Porcelain poppies surround the Tower of London
to commemorate World War I

| 7 comments
 

Thousands of ceramic poppies have been planted around the Tower of London for tomorrow's centenary marking the start of the First World War (+ slideshow).

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

Titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red after a poem written by an unknown soldier, the collaboration between ceramic artist Paul Cummins and set designer Tom Piper will see a total of 888,246 poppies added over the summer until they encircle the tower.



The poppies – a symbol of remembrance in the UK – have been created in porcelain by Cummins and distributed to create fields of red around the former moat of the historic landmark, known formally as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

Piper arranged the poppies so they appear to pour out of an opening in one of the turrets. A wave of flowers also rises over the causeway used by visitors to enter the castle, one of London's Historic Royal Palaces and home to the crown jewels.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London
Photograph by Tom Piper

"They could be tears, they could be blood flowing or it could be poppies growing unnaturally tall to climb over the walls," Piper told Dezeen, offering possible interpretations.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London
Photograph by Tom Piper

Pathways around the grassy area of the former moat wind between the flowers, which are supported on thin metal stems that stick into the ground.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

The installation will be formally unveiled tomorrow to commemorate 100 years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

Each flower represents a British military fatality during the war, which began in 1914 and ended four years later. "When you think about that each one is a life, it's extraordinary and rather moving," said Piper.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

The first flower was "planted" on 17 June by Crawford Butler – the tower's longest serving Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater – and over 8,000 volunteers will help to complete the field.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

Piper estimated that around 110,000 poppies are currently in place within his installations and the field around the west side of the building.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

"It's like a giant Pointillist sculpture, in which every poppy is a dot," Piper said. "Like with Pointillism it takes a long time to fill in the gaps."

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

The poppies will be available to purchase for £25, with proceeds going to a number of charities that raise money for the armed services. "The whole installation will be dispersed across the country and around the world," said Piper.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

A programme of events will accompany the installation, which will remain until 11am on 11 November – the UK's Remembrance Day – when the last poppy will be put in place.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppies installation at the Tower of London

Elsewhere in the city, Tobias Rehberger has patterned a docked British warship with distorting black and white graphics to create another artwork marking the centenary.

  • Rae Claire

    Superb.

  • Dean Thomas

    Where can you buy these? Willing to support the good cause.

  • Peter Hughes

    Dean Thomas is asking the right questions.
    You can purchase your poppy here: https://poppies.hrp.org.uk/buy-a-poppy/

  • Damian

    “888,246 poppies added over the summer until they encircle the tower.”

  • BriH

    There are 110,000 in place now but the total installation will be 888,246 in place by 11/11/14. The sale of these will net £15 million for charity.

    By the way; it is beautiful!

  • Ll

    I will be in London on 13th November. Will the poppies still be open to the public? I would love to visit.