This morning I headed into London with the express purpose of viewing the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation at the Tower of London. Time is drawing near when the weather will close up, the rail tickets will become expensive, and the 11th of November is upon us. Of course this was only one of three destinations that I had in mind for my day out, but more about those later.
The moat of the Tower is currently being filled with 888246 ceramic poppies, each representing a British Military fatality during World War 1. That is a lot of poppies, and seeing the real thing is overwhelming.
I realised that there were a lot of people there when our queue to get off the underground platform at Tower Hill ground to a halt. There were people everywhere, and I suspect that many, like myself, were really shocked at the sheer size of the red patch that is seemingly flowing out from an opening in the battlements into the moat.
But once you step back and look along the length of the moat you suddenly get a sense of scale of the size of the project, and the numbers of casualties that are being commemorated.
Each poppy is hand placed, and the installation is scheduled to be completed by November 11, I do not know how many have been placed already, but there are still two months to go and the moat is a very large area. Looking at the numbers, they have to place over 9000 poppies a day which means there are roughly 100000 in place already.
It is really breathtaking to see, as numbers lost in warfare goes 800000 is not a lot, but when you see all of these poppies you need to consider that for every poppy there was a mother and father, possibly siblings, wives, children and loved ones. Each poppy connected a family to a person, and those family members are sometimes unaware that they have somebody in their past that is represented by one of these ceramic flowers.
The work is the brainchild of Paul Cummins, who has really made a monument that just says so much, and which is going to be unbelievable when it is completed.
I do not know if I will see it again, but I do think that this is one of the most effective memorials I have seen for those who never came home.
More information about the installation and the charities that will be benefiting from the sale of the poppies is available on the The Tower of London Remembers Website
© DRW 2014-2021. Images recreated 19/04/2016