62000 Handcrafted Red Poppies

62000 poppies for the lives of those 62000 Australians lost in World War 1

The Australian War Memorial has a very special commemoration happening at the moment.

62000 poppies made with love

To mark the 100th anniversary, 1918 to 2018, of the end of the First World War, a spectacular sea of handcrafted red poppies has sprouted.  This is part of the Honour Their Spirit commemorations which will run from 5 October to Remembrance Day on 11 November 2018.

And I can assure you, the 62000 poppies were an amazing sight to see, not to mention moving!

The display represents the lives of 62000 Australians lost in the First World War.  It is a beautiful heartfelt tribute.

The story behind the Poppies

What I liked most was the story behind the handmade red poppies.  The 5000 Poppies project was started by two women, Lynne Berry and Margaret Knight, in 2013.  It began as a small personal tribute to honour their fathers, with a plan to crochet 120 red poppies for Remembrance day in 2013. It grew into something spectacular with over 300000 poppies handcrafted by volunteers in the community throughout Australia, New Zealand and beyond. I’m proud to say that my mother was one of those who made some of the red poppies. Patterns were made available and collection points setup – it is an amazing project which resonated with thousands of people.  The poppies were all made with love and thanks.

If you’re interested in any of the patterns here’s the link from the 5000 Poppies blog – Patterns

More than 300,000 stunning handcrafted poppies have been contributed from all over the world. Contributors include children as young as two, right through to people aged 102, and from many different backgrounds and cultures.

The poppies are all unique, in various shades of red, pink, orange – some with clever embellishments, others quite plain but they all mean something special.  It was heartening to see lots of family groups walking around the display, discussing the meaning behind the poppies.  The artistic way they were ‘planted’ was very clever and the musical arrangement playing lent a certain gravitas to the display too. All in all, it was a very professional installation but perfectly in keeping with the subject matter.

Honour Their Spirit

The poppies have been displayed all over the world and the Honour Their Spirit display was launched in Canberra on 5 October 2018. As a post on their blog says:

Some of our beautiful blooms are slightly worn by the patina of their travels through the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Fromelles, France for the Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles in 2016.  They will fade, as poppies in the field do.  But that will be part of the story too.

The installation is open in the grounds of the War Memorial in Canberra from 9 am and it’s a free event. Night time lighting allows visitors to access the display through to 10 pm each day.  It’s well worth a visit!

Funds raised by the sales of some of the spare poppies will be donated to legacy Australia – a very worthwhile organisation.  We bought a few poppy brooches and will wear them with pride.  I also bought my baby granddaughter Emilia, a pack of poppy seeds so she can grow her own poppies in the garden.

Question: What do you think is the biggest security risk to the poppies?

Answer: Kangaroos! Only in Australia 🙂

We spoke with a helpful staff member at the display and got talking about security.  The grounds are quite open and although they are patrolled throughout the night by professionals, the biggest security risk, funnily enough, are the nearby kangaroos. Up until the time the display was setup, the kangaroos had free rein eating the grass where the poppies have been ‘planted’.  Now they come in for a snack and don’t know what’s going on, all these red poppies are everywhere!

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That make our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

We are the Dead.  Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch, be yours to hold it high

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

By Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

I took lots of photos and this one was a bit of a surprise package, I’m not that sure what happened but I kind of like it.  What do you think?

62000 poppies at Australian War Memorial Canberra
62000 poppies at Australian War Memorial Canberra

I am so pleased to have seen this wonderful display and to have learnt more from reading about it.  I am in awe of the efforts of everyone involved. I also enjoyed reading my blogging friend Chris’s post on her visit to the poppies –  A field of red poppies at the Australian War Memorial Canberra: a sea of love and thanks

Have you seen this display? What are you thoughts?

Feel free to leave a comment below. I always love hearing from you.

Deb xx

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42 Replies to “62000 Handcrafted Red Poppies”

  1. No doubt this is an impressive and moving display. Something similar was done at the Tower of London in 2014, nearly 900k ceramic poppies commemorating every British and colonial soldier who lost their life in WW1. It was a remarkable sight. We should never forget those who gave their lives for the freedoms we have today.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. How lovely that your Mum was involved and made some poppies! I didn’t realise you could buy some of the leftover ones – I might have to go back (again!). Those funny roos – poor things must be so confused. Thanks for the link.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely idea!

    There was a similar display outside the tower of London a few years ago, but they were ceramic, rather than crochet. This one is a real labor of love. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel very strongly that we all need to remember the fallen and the Poppies are such a great reminder. The local community on the Central Coast had a Poppy Project in 2015 and 2016 and I added a crepe poppy to the groups in memory of my paternal grandfather who fought in WW1 and did return. This would have been amazing to see. Thank you for sharing. Denyse #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denyse, I agree wholeheartedly with you! It’s an amazing project that started with just two women with an idea. I love the way we all get behind the poppies in so many ways. I appreciate your comment 🙂

      Like

  5. I imagine it would be quite an inspiring sight Deb – I don’t think photographs capture the scale and the sense of history that seeing it in “the flesh” would give. Still the photos are lovely and the kangaroo story made me smile.
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading the history of these handmade poppies. Found the kangaroo angle to be funny and your picture is quite interesting. I like the way all the color is washed out except the red of the poppies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jennifer, it was an interesting display and quite moving too. I just had to include the kangaroos 😂. I enjoy experimenting with photos and it shows I’m not afraid to share some of my more obscure ones I suppose!

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  7. I have seen it a couple of times now and drive by it regularly (live in Canberra). I was there last night (did blog entry on that this morning) and funny you should mention kangaroos as one darted by when I was leaving! Very touching display.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Debbie – I got an extremely grainy photo of the kangaroo in the dark – not publishable quality! I trust you enjoy my blog which is focusing on North Korea right now but with other stuff also being added … slowly 🙂 I have likewise followed your blog and look forward to delving in there as time permits.

        Liked by 1 person

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