It seems I have not posted on this blog for some time. It was never my intention to be away so long … but I have been a little preoccupied …
Just a warning that this is a long post … making up for lost time … mostly just images, because I think this is the best way to show you what I have been involved in over the last two years.
The 5000 Poppies Project is a community tribute of respect and remembrance to our servicemen and women, their families and their communities. It was created by my sister in law Marg Knight and I in honour of our fathers. If you’d like to know more about that you can read all about the project on the 5000 Poppies blog … there is a link at the bottom of this post.
So … 5000 Poppies kinda took over my life somewhat and has left very little room for extra curricular activities … although I must admit I was tempted a few times (but more on that in a later post). And as I come up for air after a whirlwind two years I am delighted to share with you.
It has been an honour and a privilege I must admit.
In all we collected around 300,000 stunning handmade poppies from people all over the world, and in the process we have met many wonderful people and shared many wonderful stories with our contributors and volunteers. It has been an incredibly humbling experience and we have created some amazing installations.
First there was the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in March 2015 … in a collaboration with Australia’s acclaimed landscape designer Phillip Johnson, our wonderful team planted 5,000 beautiful stemmed poppies as part of a tribute garden in honour of Phillip’s great grandfather who fought and died on the Somme in WWI. It was a very beautiful, very moving installation and there were tears aplenty. The poppies were knitted and crocheted, and attached to stems of knitted i-cord over bamboo skewers.
Next came our spectacular installation for Anzac Day as part of the Centenary of Anzac Commemorations in April 2015. It was simply amazing. Again, in collaboration with Phillip Johnson and his team who worked with us to put together a massive jigsaw of beautiful poppy panels on the steps of Fed Square in the heart of Melbourne. Plus a series of static displays in the atrium. The installation featured Adrian Egglestone’s beautiful Gratitude Sculpture as a centrepiece. Stunning! Emotional! Heartfelt! It goes without saying that there were many tears shed here.
On Anzac Day, not content with hundreds of sqm of poppies being laid on the steps of Fed Square … with the help of our many volunteers and the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade we moved them onto Princes Bridge in the dead of night so that our Anzac Day March could march through the centre of them and then moved them back to Fed Square again. It was wet wet wet on Anzac Day and every one of those 80 nets were very very heavy.
The outcome of these two amazing installations was an invitation to feature the whole project at the 2016 Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in London. Such an incredible honour … and we loved every minute of it to tell you the truth. With the wonderful financial assistance of our major sponsor the Victorian Government, our official carrier Qantas who took us to London and home again, as well as our friends at Carpet Call who generously provided 300 sqm of carpet delivered to site … our incredible team of volunteers laid more than 2000 sqm of beautiful poppies in tribute including 26,500 stemmed poppies. A mammoth effort. London really turned on the weather for us and we thoroughly enjoyed talking about this amazing tribute to all who came to visit including the British Royal Family. What an honour!!!
And if that wasn’t enough, we managed to secure an Australian Government Grant along with some private funding, to take our poppies across to Fromelles France for the Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles. An incredibly moving experience for all of us. Again our team came with us and were complemented by a team from the local Rotary District in France, the Australian military, and many others who wanted to help out on the day. We installed approx 26,000 poppies at Cobbers, a small piece of sacred land in rural France that many Australians as well as British, French and others lost their lives fighting over in WWI.
We are also on tour with the fabulous Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience … a spectacular WWI exhibition which is touring Australia from 2014 to 2017.
It has been a full on couple of years … and the truth is its been a massive community effort … I cannot stress enough how many thousands of contributors from all over Australia and indeed the world coupled with an amazing team of volunteers helped to pull it all together. They have made this evolving dream a reality. It’s probably taken around a million man hours … I kid you not!
Words just cannot express my gratitude … it’s been amazing.
We will continue our work until 2018 which is the Centenary of the end of WWI, and are in discussions with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra about our final installation … We expect it will be HUGE! Stay tuned … exciting stuff.
We are also continuing support smaller localised installations on request and have done quite a few … all beautiful, all unique … and all with one aim (at the risk of repeating myself), and that is to honour our servicemen and women, their families and their communities.
How lucky am I, are we, to get to do this work?
You can read more about the 5000 Poppies project, its origins, and its metamorphosis at 5000Poppies.wordpress.com
You can also join our facebook group if you would like to join the Project … 5000 Poppies
I would like to acknowledge the photographers … the professional Fed Square photographs were taken by Patrick Redmond and the Chelsea Flower Show and Fromelles professional photographs were taken by Claire Takacs. All other photographs are either taken by me or have been posted on our facebook group … with many and varied authors.