12th October - 1st November 2015
Weeping Window is from the extraordinary installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which was shown at the Tower of London in 2014. Weeping Window is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high structure to the ground below; Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks.
These two sculptures, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, marking the centenary of the outbreak of war, are now brought to audiences at venues across the country as part of the 14-18 NOW programme. As with all 14-18 NOW’s projects, the presentation of these sculptures to new audiences across the United Kingdom aimed to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.
The breath-taking sculptures were initially conceived as the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of the life of a British and Colonial soldier lost during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people. The original installation was conceived of as transitory, the sea of poppies growing in size until the final one was planted on 11 November 2014. On completion, however, it was agreed that the works of art at the heart of this broader act of memorial should be preserved for the nation. 14-18 NOW is enormously grateful to the Backstage Trust and Clore Duffield Foundation for their support in securing these sculptures for posterity.
For the remainder of the 14-18 NOW programme, Weeping Window and Wave will be on view at selected locations around the United Kingdom. They will be gifted to the Imperial War Museums and displayed during the autumn of 2018 at IWM North and IWM London.
Woodhorn Museum was honoured to be the first venue to present Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Woodhorn is committed to bringing high quality arts, heritage and cultural experiences to the communities of the North East. At Woodhorn, Weeping Window cascades 55ft from the winding wheel of the No. 1 Heapstead (built in 1897). The Heapstead, an instantly recognisable symbol of the industrial heritage of the region, provides a dramatic new backdrop and context to the sculpture. Woodhorn Colliery played a major part in the war effort, not only for coal production, but also supplying skilled miners for the front. From the minute books of the Ashington Coal Company we have established that from a workforce of over 9000, nearly 2500 were serving within the armed forces and, by the beginning of 1917, around 250 had lost their lives. Discover more of Woodhorn’s story by exploring the historic colliery buildings and ‘Coal Town’ exhibition in the main museum.
Credit: Weeping Window is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red.
Poppies and original concept: Paul Cummins. Installation design: Tom Piper.
By Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces
at HM Tower of London 2014.
Image credit: Colin Davison