Poppies installation at the Tower of London. (c) RLeaHairHRP

Poppies installation will tour the UK

Eleanor Mills, 05.08.2015
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was on display at the Tower of London
Artist Paul Cummins’s work Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, originally on display at the Tower of London last year, will go on show at three regional destinations across the UK.

As part of the ongoing 14-18 NOW war commemorations, the poppies installation will tour venues across the UK. From the original 888,246 ceramic flowers, which represent every British fatality, 3,000 will make their way to Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives.

Cummins's Weeping Window will be recreated in the grounds of Woodhorn from September to October, before it appears at St George’s Hall in Liverpool from November to January 2016. Wave – an arch of poppy of heads suspended on stalks – will be on display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park from September to January 2016.

Keith Merrin, the director of Woodhorn, said: “We’re bringing an internationally-renowned artwork to north east England.

“The first world war has particular resonance to the north east because thousands from the area fought in the war, and if they didn’t fight, they mined coal to help fuel the war effort."

Woodhorn holds the collection of work that the Pitmen Painters bequeathed to the museum. As miners-come-artists, this early 20th-century artist group sets an appropriate context for a contemporary war-related artwork being shown at the colliery.

“Though we’ll only be showing one part of the installation, I’d like to suggest that it will be more dramatic than its London display," Merrin said. "At Woodhorn, 3,000 poppies will cascade from the pit wheel at the top of our coalmining tower, into a 7 sq m area on the ground.

“We are not just a mining museum, but somewhere people can go for a range of cultural experiences. Art breaks down the boundaries of background and class, just like the Pitmen Painters did."

Merrin hopes the installation will draw new visitors to the area, along with the events programme that Woodhorn will run, including a pop-up first world war archive.

“From the basic research we’ve done, we know that local communities don’t tend to travel to London much, so showing the poppies here will provide an opportunity for those who couldn’t get to the Tower of London,” Merrin said.

The poppies artwork was saved for the nation by the Backstage Trust and the Clore Duffield Foundaton, and gifted to 14-18 NOW and the Imperial War Museums. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Heritage Lottery Fund are helping to fund the tour.