The inauguration of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marks one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, which ended in 1918. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower’s famous moat over the summer. The Tower’s unique role during the war was chosen due to its central mobilisation and recruitment site for troops, and as a place of execution for spies. Each poppy represents a Commonwealth military fatality during the war. The poppies will encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower, but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration. The poppies will eventually be sold and its proceeds will be shared equally amongst six service charities.
One of the most arresting images is of the “Weeping Window,” where poppies cascade out of a Yeoman Warder’s window, spilling out onto the moat like an ever-expanding river of blood. Adding to the spectacle, every day at dusk a speaker stands in the middle of the poppies and reads the names of 180 soldiers who died, followed by a cavalry trumpet call. More than 18,000 people have volunteered to plant the poppies.
Credit: Historic Royal Palaces, Paul Cummins, Tom Piper.