Just before 11 a.m. this morning in London, the last poppy in a sea of 888,245 ceramic blooms flowing around the Tower of London was added. The symbolic planting, timed to ceremonies marking Armistice Day in the United Kingdom, completes the "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" art installation, a haunting and beautiful exhibition honoring the life of every British citizen lost during World War I.
"It was a wonderful thing to see it finished," designer Tom Piper told the Evening Standard. "I found it very moving. To think one poppy is one life and to see the sheer numbers that are there is still emotionally draining. It’s rather amazing and humbling that it has been taken to heart by the public. It’s allowed people to personally connect with Remembrance Day and the scale of the losses has been brought to people’s attention."
Since the first poppy was planted on July 17, about 5 million people have come to watch the work's daily expansion. The sea of red is meant to depict a pool of blood pouring out of the Tower of London's "Weeping Window" and into the surrounding moat. More than 17,500 volunteers helped plant the ceramic blooms.
The work's title comes from the first line of a poem by an unknown WWI British soldier that begins, "The blood swept lands and seas of red, / Where angels dare to tread / ..."
Piper and his team will now begin the task of removing the poppies from the moat. Originally offered for sale, each of the ceramic blooms has already been purchased, with proceeds benefiting military charities in the U.K.
The artwork's two main features — the "Weeping Window" cascade of poppies and the mass of poppies near the entrance called the "Wave" — will remain until the end of November.
Related on MNN: