Do you own a ceramic poppy from the Tower of London? Well, now you can pin it on a digital map as part of a campaign to preserve the stories behind the 2014 installation Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red.
The campaign, “Where are the Poppies Now“, is headed by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.
The interactive map will use the Google Maps APIs to showcase where the poppies are located around the world, and to share stories of why or for whom the poppies were bought. The Tower of London installation Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red, was created by artists Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.
“The digital project was the ideal way to crowdsource as many of these stories as possible. The poppies have touched the lives of so many, it would be wonderful if all the owners around the world came and planted their digital poppy, creating an invaluable archive for the future,” says Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW. “The digital manifestation is reuniting the original poppies, which will never be physically together again.”
Poppies from this installation have travelled far and wide, from the USA to Australia, as well as being taken to war graves in memory of relatives who lost their lives in the First World War.
The project aims to track each and every one down, encouraging people to use social media and the hashtag #wherearethepoppiesnow to share interesting stories and connect with other owners. “The interactivity of the project means that people can personalise their responses, connecting a global conflict from 100 years ago with our world today,” Waldman says.
The original installation, commonly referred to as the Tower Poppies, contained 888,246 poppies, one for every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War. It marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement and was visited by over five million people.
Artist Paul Cummins hopes Where Are the Poppies Now will be a legacy of his original artwork. “The project really brings the installation full circle for me. From Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, where people travelled to London to see the poppies, to the poppies tour, where the poppies travel to the people, and now the poppies moving online to digitally come together once again, I think it will bring back many memories of the initial installation,” he says.
The website can geo-locate where in the world the viewer is, and will automatically highlight nearby poppies on the map. The mobile first project is also a chance for people who don’t have a poppy to reflect on memories of WW1.
14-18 NOW will also be touring the country with two sculptures from Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red; Wave and Weeping Window, which total over 10,000 poppies saved for the nation by the Backstage Trust and the Clore Duffield Foundation.