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City student behind Tower’s poppy art

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 
with Prince Harry view the Tower of London's 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince Harry view the Tower of London's 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'. Pic: John Stillwell/PA Wire.

Former Sheffield Hallam University student Paul Cummins is the man behind the ceramic poppies installation at the Tower of London.

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, in the Tower’s moat, currently consists of 120,000 poppies but more will be added over the coming months until there are 888,246 on Armistice Day, November 11, one for each British and Colonial death during the war.

Mr Cummins said he got the idea for the artwork from a “living will” he found in Derbyshire two years ago which had used the phrase that gave his installation its name.

“Each one represents someone who died in the First World War from Britain and the Dominions. I’m literally trying to represent people because a number is a number, but if you see it all like this it is a visual idea of how many people were there.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Prince Harry in visiting the artwork on Tuesday and Prince William was heard telling the Mr Cummins the piece was “spectacular” before they joined him to climb the Middle Tower to view the artwork from on high.

They then walked through the poppies before planting their own tribute to the war dead, accompanied by General Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, and his wife Philippa.

The royal visit to the exhibition comes a day after they joined political leaders and relatives of the fallen in Belgium to remember the sacrifices and losses exactly a century on from Britain’s entry into the war.

The Tower’s part in the war started when more than 1,600 men swore an oath to the crown there in August 1914 after enlisting for war service.

The poppies in the moat take three days to make each and are for sale online at £25 per flower.

After Remembrance ceremonies in November they will be posted to the buyers, with profits divided between six service charities including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

Each of the poppies is being installed by the artists and a team of 8,000 volunteers.

 

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