On 17th July 2014, a Yeoman Warder of the Tower of London (also known as a Beefeater) planted a single red porcelain poppy in the grass of the moat surrounding the Tower. Other poppies followed, and the installation named Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was first revealed to the public on 5th August, the centenary of the United Kingdom’s entry into the conflict that became known as WWI.
The imposing Tower of London, founded following the Norman conquest in 1066, has a rich history. From palace to prison, menagerie to mint, it’s now one of the top tourist attractions in the UK, set against the ultra-modern architecture of the city of London.
The poppy filled moat is part of an installation commemorating the British and Commonwealth dead of World War I, called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, taken from a poem written by an unknown soldier killed in the conflict.
Sculpted archers on the bastions give a hint of the history of the Tower, now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ceramic poppies spill from a window high on the Tower wall, pooling in the moat below, washing the base of the stone walls. As more poppies were added to the display by volunteers working on the project, they surge up in a wave over the causeway leading to the entrance to the Tower.
Created by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, the installation will be completed with the planting of the final poppy on Armistice Day on 11th November. This will bring the total number of poppies flooding the moat to 888,246, each representing a British and Commonwealth soldier killed in the conflict.
A symbol of remembrance since the end of the First World War, when the poppies growing in fields ravages by fighting inspired the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
Poppies pour from a window high on the outer wall of the Tower, pooling in the moat. By the time the last poppy is laid on November 11th, the moat will be completely filled, with a wave of red surging up against the stone.
At the setting of the sun, names are read from the role of Honour by a Yeoman Warder of the Tower, and the dead of the war remembered.
The installation has been criticised in some quarters as a sanitised interpretation of the grotesque and bloody events of WWI, however the sheer scale of the work has captured the imagination of the British people and the many visitors to London. Those attending at sunset everyday for the sounding of the Last Post and the reading of the Role of Honour, can’t fail to be moved viscerally by the thought of a name, and a family, attached to each and every one of the fragile flowers blooming brightly for a few short months.
My last post about the Eden Project just didn’t contain enough pictures to do justice to the amazing displays, fantastic flowers and informative interpretation. So here’s a selection of pictures to guide you through the different biomes. Continue reading →
Hidden in an old china clay pit near St Austell in Cornwall are three enormous interlinked geodesic domes, like the secret greenhouse hideaway of a villainous horticulturist from a Bond film*: the Eden Project. Describing itself variously as the world’s largest conservatory, an exciting educational playground, and an inspiring environmental resource, the Eden Project is a huge garden, both outdoors and inside, which highlights our human interconnectivity with the natural world.
This morning I read a report about a very festive extortion scam happening in Italy. Four alleged mafiosi have been arrested in Naples, charged with forcing shop owners to buy poinsettias for more than 100times the wholesale price.
The gangsters had been demanding as much as 100 Euros (£85) per plant for the past few years. Police said that business owners refusing the “special offer” had their shops vandalised and stock stolen or damaged.
A number of the blogs I follow participate in the weekly Travel Theme challenge from Where’s My Backpack, and I’ve been inspired to follow their lead for NaBloPoMo. The theme for this week is delicate, which is perfect for a picture I took on a gardening job last Friday.