About the installation
The major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War. Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower's famous moat between 17 July and 11 November 2014. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war.
The poppies encircled 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 was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration.
All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities.
The making of the installation
Roll of Honour
Each day in the moat at sunset, names of 180 Commonwealth troops killed during the war were read out as part of a Roll of Honour, followed by the Last Post. Members of the public nominated names for the Roll of Honour using a weekly ‘first come, first served’ nomination system to be read the following week in this nightly ceremony.
The Tower of London Remembers
About the artists
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. His bold, exuberantly organic flowers and vibrant glazes, combined with the raw presence of steel and wire, deliver arresting results. 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.
Tom was born in London and studied biology and art history at Trinity College, Cambridge, and production design at the Slade School of Fine Art. He worked as an assistant to Chloé Obolensky before beginning his freelance career in theatre. He regularly collaborates with various directors including Michael Boyd and Sam Mendes. He has been associate designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company since 2004. Tom collaborated with the British Museum and Alan Farlie Architects on the exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. His many awards include an Olivier Award (costume design) for the Histories series.
Historic Royal Palaces are grateful to Catlin Group Ltd and Santander UK plc for their support on this project as Premier Partners of the Tower of London, Summer 2014, and Stewarts Law LLP Corporate Partner.
The Tower of London Remembers project has generously been supported by a number of organisations including;
Barcode; Benjamin Whitfield; Catlin Group Ltd; Charapak; Derby Enterprise Fund; Gorgeous Hire; H2 Energy; Panasonic; Roley Short; Santander UK plc; Sarah Symington Catering; Squire’s Garden Centres; Stewarts Law LLP and The Stewarts Law Foundation; Triad Group plc.