L&R 2014 – The Tower Poppies

Part of my study abroad trip to London and Rome in September is a series of blog posts about the things we see and do while on the trip. This is the third of five required posts about London and is about a work of art: the Tower Poppies.

Less a work of art and more an art installation, the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is the proper name for the “Tower of London Remembers” memorial about the British fallen during the first World War.

The Tower Poppies seen while approaching the Tower.
The Tower Poppies seen while approaching the Tower.

When I first saw them as we arrived at the Tower I wasn’t sure what they were. Just this field of red encircling the Tower complex. I could tell their was lots of them, little red flowers, but at the same time the number defied any possible attempts to count or make sense of.

Waterfall of poppies.
Waterfall of poppies.

Along one side there was this waterfall of flowers coming from one of the Tower windows, pouring out atop a frame that made it seem like a waterfall of flowers.

It isn’t until you are near the entrance to go into the Tower that you finally find a sign explaining what it is: a war memorial. Running from August 4th through to November 11th, these 888,246 hand-crafted ceramic poppies were installed surrounding the Tower as a remembrance for the British fallen. One poppy for every life lost in the first World War.

I don’t think all of the poppies were installed yet when we saw it, but it was still a mind-numbing number and probably the most effective (and beautiful) depiction I’ve ever come across of the war dead from the first World War. In terms of the impact that art made upon me during this trip, while not a very traditional example it may have made the deepest impression upon me.

Seen again, with the light of the setting sun as we were getting ready to leave.
Seen again, with the light of the setting sun as we were getting ready to leave.

The poppies are going to be sold when the installation is over, the proceeds going to six different charities that support those who have served. If I had the money to spare (they are 25 GBP each) I’d consider buying one. They are beautiful, the money goes to good causes, and it would make a pretty unique keepsake from the trip.

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