Blood swept lands and seas of red

Art installation at the Tower of London – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is an art installation at the Tower of London to commemorate 100 years since the beginning of World War I. The plaque on the railing reads:

This evolving art installation is filling the Tower moat with 888,246 hand-made ceramic poppies. Each one represents a British military death during the First World War, which broke out 100 years ago. The last poppy will be planted on 11 November.

The amount of red in that moat is overwhelming.

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A moat full of poppies.

The panoramic shot covers only two sides of the tower – there are more poppies planted than are visible from this angle. And they haven’t planted them all yet.

They began putting in the installation on the 5th of August, and the sea of red has been expanding ever since. There’s almost no green left visible. It’s an unexpectedly powerful memorial, and crowds jammed the paths and the railings to get a closer look.

Every evening at sunset, the names of 180 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the war are read out as part of the Roll of Honour. This is followed by a playing of Last Post. Members of the public can nominate names to be read out as a part of the ceremony. Nominations open at 9am on Monday morning for the ceremonies in that week.

Despite the grey skies, it was actually noon when I was at the tower so I didn’t stay for the ceremony. I am moved, though, that they’re commemorating the fallen in this way. When I was a child, the First World War was still a part of living memory. It’s hard to get my head around the fact that it has been a century since it began. That it’s purely history for the children of today. So I’m very glad that so much effort is being made, that we as a culture will not forget.

The river of blood made to look like it's pouring from the window of the tower. I'm not sure if the archer in the upper left hand corner of the photo is part of the art installation or not...

The river of blood made to look like it’s pouring from the window of the tower. I’m not sure if the archer in the upper left hand corner of the photo is part of the art installation or not…

The poppies are for sale – when the installation is dismantled they’ll be posted to buyers around the world – with the proceeds going to six different service charities.

The Tower of London website has more information, and you can also find links to buy a poppy or nominate a name to be read out.

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