Remembrance weekend seems an appropriate time to post these images. We visited the Poppies: Wave installation on Plymouth Hoe on 19th September. The artwork, by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, is centred on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Naval Memorial, and re-uses many of the ceramic poppies previously seen at the Tower of London display in 2014.
Plymouth University’s graduation celebrations were also taking place that day, in a vast marquee on the Hoe, only a couple of hundred metres from the Memorial. Our visit to the installation was punctuated by the sounds of speeches, cheers and loud applause every few minutes, with large numbers of deliriously happy students and their families milling around the area – one group stopped me to ask if I would take their photo on the marquee side of the Memorial, and of course I did so. We continued our visit with a mix of conflicting emotions.
I took a few obvious photographs of the installation, but the light wasn’t too good, and it seemed a little pointless, so I won’t post those here. I admire the execution of the Wave. It somehow manages a kind of elegance and dignity, and the simple power of so many poppies underlines the scale of the loss. I set about making some multiple exposure images, intending to make some kind of chaos out of the order and careful placement of the poppies on display. I believe the need we have as a culture to create meaning and ceremony, and to understand the context of armed conflict, needs also to be balanced with a need to acknowledge the utter confusion, terror, horror and ghastliness of the loss of blood and loss of life experienced by those poor souls commemorated. For these and other reasons, I made these images:
Back on the other side of the Memorial the students were spilling out of the marquee to enjoy the late sunshine on the grass around the Hoe. We enjoyed their enjoyment, and silently wished them all the luck in the world. Many may ponder on how wonderfully fortunate they are, after their years of study, to have at least some kind of future to look forward to.
Unlike the majority of my images on this site, these photographs are for viewing only and cannot be made available for sale.
You may also be interested in my 19240 Shrouds of the Somme post from last year, which you can find here.