A huge piece of public art is nearing its climax at the Tower of London. By 11 November, volunteers will have planted 888,246 ceramic poppies, in over, around and under the Tower of London by hand. The quantity matches the number of British casualties in the First World War which marks the centenary of its start this year.
The poppies are being sold to members of the public after the display ends, after 11 November, British Remembrance Day. At this time they are all sold.
The six charities benefitting all work with current and former members of the British Armed Forces.
The installation works both on a large and small scale. There is an undeniable majesty of seeing the moat, an otherwise wasted part of the Tower filled with a sea (or perhaps) an ocean of red. The poppies form a ring surrounding the historic building, which houses the British Crown Jewels. With Tower Bridge in the background there is a historic vista on the east of the Tower.
On the west side you have the contrast of The Shard, a very new addition to the London skyline.
The artists responsible for the installation have made it ebb and flow across public entrances, the foundations and other parts of the Tower.
When you look more closely the detail of the individual flowers is clear. Looking even in a small area you realise how many heads there are. The realisation of course comes fairly fast that each one represents a dead member of the armed forces, and the sheer quantity of the sacrifice becomes clear. Even in a small area there are hundreds of flowers.
I was down at the Tower early in the morning, and the sun was just rising behind Tower Bridge, illuminating the Tower for another day of ‘planting’ poppies.
If you are in London before 11 November, I strongly suggest you visit. It really is extraordinary.
If you are looking for other things to do during your visit read my series on things to do in London.