Poppies Weeping Window

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Weeping Window is part of the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands of Seas of Red’ which was originally shown at the Tower of London in November and December 2014.  The original display captured the British public’s imagination – it is estimated that the Tower of London was visited by over five million people whilst the Poppies were on display.  It was named Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red after a line written by a Derbyshire soldier who died in Belgium.

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Weeping window has now been installed on St George’s Hall in the heart of Liverpool.  It is on display from 7 November through to 17 January 2016.  It was the centre piece of the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Liverpool on 8 November.  It is a cascade of several thousand handmade ceramic poppies which pour out from high up in St George’s Hall to the ground below.  The thousands of ceramic flowers represent the lives of the many military fatalities lost in the First World War.  World War 1 style sandbags cordon off the poppies from the public viewing them.

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I went along to try and capture some images in the rain. Some shots have been affected by the very heavy rain that fell this weekend.

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The sculptures are by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper and they take elements of their installation from the Tower of London to create another work of art here in Liverpool.  The event is part of the UK wide 14-18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commission’s aim to commemorate, across the country, the hundred years since the First World War.

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Over the period the original installation was housed at the Tower of London poppies were added each day until there were 888,246 poppies representing each one of the deaths in the British and Colonial forces between 1914 and 1918.  The last poppy was planted at the Tower of London on Remembrance Day 2014.

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The Backstage Trust bought the Weeping Window section of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red artwork following the closure of the event at the Tower of London last autumn.  The Clore Duffield Foundation secured the Wave section of the installation.  Both works, together totalling more than 10,000 ceramic poppies, are being showcased at locations around the country between now and 2018, before finding permanent homes at the Imperial War Museum in London and Manchester.  Most of the poppies were sold to the public, raising about £9m for military charities.

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Weeping Window spent two months on show at the Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland before moving to Liverpool for Remembrance Sunday.  The Wave was installed in September at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

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St George’s Hall was built in 1854 and is regarded as one the finest examples of neo classical architecture in the world.  The plateau outside the front of the hall is meeting place for great celebrations and commemorations in the city.  During World War 1 St George’s Hall was the rallying point for the famous Liverpool PALs, when Lord Derby and Lord Kitchener appealed for 100,000 local men to form a new army battalion.

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Thousands of men travelled to these rallies and they signed their attestation papers in St George’s Hall.

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Lord Kitchener was Secretary of State for War and he organised the largest volunteer army that both Britain and the world had ever seen.  His commanding image appeared on recruiting posters demanding “Your country needs you!” across the land.

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By September 1914, more than 30,000 men had enlisted at St George’s Hall.  In 1915 Lord Kitchener returned to Liverpool to inspect nine battalions on the plateau outside the great hall.  However, by the end of the war more than 13,000 men from Merseyside had died in the conflict.  The plateau now features the Liverpool cenotaph, established in 1927 as a memorial to those who fell in WW1.

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