Today is your last chance to see the major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively have filled the Tower’s famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war.
The poppies 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.
Paul Cummins is an inspirational ceramic artist whose reputation has grown exponentially over the last few years, with a number of high-profile commissions both regionally and, more recently, nationally and internationally.
Drawing on a myriad of inspirations and subconscious prompts from his life, experiences and his previous career as an architect abroad, Paul’s work is informed by a detailed understanding for aesthetic form and holds a commanding visual authority.
For this latest project, with Historic Royal Palaces, Paul was inspired by a line in the will of a Derbyshire man who joined up in the earliest days of the war and died in Flanders. Knowing that everyone was dead and he was surrounded by blood, the man wrote: ‘The Blood Swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.’ From this line came the idea for 888,246 poppies, one for each British or Colonial military fatality during the First World War.
Potters at Paul’s studio have been hand-making the pieces using techniques which were utilised by potters during the First World War.