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Poppies: Wave

Open Air
5 Sep 2015–10 Jan 2016

Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks designed by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, created to mark the centenary of the outbreak of war.

Wave alongside Weeping Window came to audiences at venues across the country as part of the 14-18 NOW programme. As with all of 14-18 NOW's projects, the presentation of the sculptures to new audiences across the United Kingdom aimed to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.

The breathtaking 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.


Wave was presented in YSP’s historic Lower Lake, a one kilometre walk from the main visitor centre and car park. Nearby surroundings include sculptures by world-class artists Anthony Caro, Antony Gormley and Julian Opie, alongside heritage features such as the Bretton Estate’s grand mansion house and the historic Cascade Bridge.

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 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, Wave and Weeping Window will be on view at selected locations around the United Kingdom. They will then be gifted to the Imperial War Museums and displayed during the autumn of 2018 at IWM North and IWM London. 

Wave 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. Presented by 14-18 NOW and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.