In designing and creating the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red sculpture at the Tower of London on such a huge scale in 2014 to mark the beginning of the war’s centenary, artist Paul Cummins and installation designer Tom Piper brought the emblematic, bright red colour associated with Poppy Day together with an astounding 888,246 physical, representative ceramic flowers to the public with impactful and touching effects. The sheer overpowering scale of the sculpture epitomised visually the historical devastation with beautiful resonance. With every poppy representing a life lost in British and Colonial forces during the war, many found a visit to the Tower overwhelming. NOW 14-18 commissioned the momentous works in order to ‘encourage people from every community to reflect on how the First World War has shaped today’s world and our attitudes to conflict now,’ aligning the inspiration behind the art with The Royal British Legion’s call for present-day consideration when it comes to wearing a poppy.
The part of the sculpture named Wave, which started in the grounds and moved upwards to curl into an archway over the Tower’s entrance, has been moved to Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton this winter, flowing delicately over the establishment’s historic Lower Lake from the bridge above. The installation can be found 1 kilometre from the park’s visitor centre, a perfect opportunity to walk through the countryside and reflect on the lives lost at war before reaching the art. YSP tells us that the piece is surrounded by artwork by those such as Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley and Julian Opie, placing it within a creative landscape that confirms both its artistic elegance and power of meaning in current circumstances. The need to educate that is rooted so firmly within Remembrance Day is epitomised in the learning programme that YSP has provided to support a visit to the sculpture, and the venue also promoted the chance to volunteer with the Visitor Experience team on the exhibit. Excitingly, on the 19th November YSP Programme director Clare Lilley will talk to Paul Cummins himself, discussing his inspiration and artistic journey throughout the process. This will start at 7 pm, with tickets standing at £6 each.
The installation, open from the 5th of September 2015 to the 10th January 2016, is part of the UK tour of the poppy sculptures. The part of the original work entitled Weeping Window can be found at St George’s Hall in Liverpool and Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland. Eventually, in 2018, the sculptures will be given to the Imperial War Museums, where displays will be open to the public at both the North and London Imperial War Museums in the autumn.