The Poppy Project
A spectacular display of 2,000 handmade, individually crafted poppies in remembrance of the WWI Armistice
The Poppy Project was Artified's first project. To commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I, I made over 2,000 individual poppies from clay at my Northampton home in autumn 2019.
After approaching St Peter and St Paul's Church in Abington with my idea, the poppies were arranged in the churchyard, cascading from the east window of "The Church in the Park" on to the grass below. They were "planted" at the beginning of October 2018 and remained on display until Remembrance Sunday on 11th November.
Creating the Poppies
My first term of retirement was amazing!!! I had expected to be living life in the slow lane, but nothing had been how I imagined it would be. Much of that was down to the Poppy Project, which completely took over the first three months of my retirement.
When I started making the poppies it was a germ of an idea, and a thousand seemed to be a good round number to aim for. Then, after the people at the Church of St Peter and St Paul agreed to let me use the space in front of the Church, I knew a minimum of 2,000 poppies would be needed to have any impact on the space.
The kiln arrived, and poppy production began in earnest. Rolling out the clay became a full time job and everyone and anyone was enlisted to help, and my best friend took up residence! It was a summer of sunshine and much laughter as the car port was turned into a poppy factory.
I knew exactly what I had in mind for the lettering and we projected the font style onto the wall in the lounge and drew round the shapes onto paper. My husband cut the lettering out of wood and then went away for a few days leaving me with two tins of undercoat and a large tin of black gloss.
Oh my goodness - I never normally use gloss paint. I totally covered everywhere in thin plastic, so that I didn’t make a permanent mess. The grey undercoat went on without too much difficulty, but the lettering was so slippery to hold when it was covered in black gloss and it kept sliding off the table and everywhere got into such a state! I’m just glad no-one was watching……..It was all worth it though when the poppies were screwed on and the lettering was complete. It was just how I imagined it would be.
Installing the Poppies
We had agreed that the installation would go out at the beginning of October and lots of friends came along to help. Once again, it was a glorious sunny day and everything just fell into place with relative ease and it looked amazing.
Having spent many sleepless nights worrying about whether the poppies would be stolen, it turned out to be a worry about nothing. The display remained untouched for the whole of the time it was out.
One thing I hadn’t anticipated was how well-received the display would be. Right from the first few minutes it was put out, people started visiting and there was a constant stream of people from then until the time the poppies were taken down. I drove past many, many times to check everything was alright and a constant stream of people were standing near the poppies photographing them, or just simply saying a quiet prayer for what they represented.
I stood by the poppies for a few hours most days and many people came to talk about their family and loved ones who had gone to war, most never to return. Over those few weeks, I met so many lovely people who came to say thank you for the work that had gone into the display. It was a lot of work, but it was a labour of love and was well worth doing.
The poppies were available to purchase at £10 each, with 50% of the sale price being donated equally between the Royal British Legion and Abington Church. Smaller poppies were also available at £7 each. People buying a poppy were invited to dedicate it to a member of their family, or a friend, who died in the war, if they wished. A limited number of poppies are still available to purchase from the online shop.
In December 2018, I officially handed over the money raised from the sale of the poppies - The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, and the Church of St Peter and St Paul were given £1,250 each! Thank you to everyone who bought a poppy and contributed to that magnificent total.
Taking the poppies down was a sad day, but the plan is that they will return in 2019, albeit in a slightly different format. So watch this space for Poppy Project Mark 3!
To find out more about the poppy project or to purchase a poppy, browse the links below.