Poppies go on show in Northumberland

Thousands of poppies representing those who lost their lives during the first world war have gone on show in Northumberland.

Woodhorn Museum in Ashington has become the first venue outside of London to display the Weeping Window section of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red scultpure that went on show at the Tower of London last year.

Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

More than 5,000 poppies from the original sculpture, which was installed to mark the centenary of World War One, have gone on show at the museum which will open to visitors from tomorrow and run until November 1.

More than five million people visited the display in London, which was created by artist Paul Cummins and designed by Tom Piper, while it was at the Tower of London between August and November last year.

A total of 888,246 poppies were individually placed, each one to represent the death of a member of the British and Colonial forces of the First World War.

Woodhorn director Keith Merrin said: “We are absolutely delighted to have Weeping Window here at Woodhorn.

Lily Wilkinson studies the poppies at Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

Lily Wilkinson studies the poppies at Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

“It is great for us to have the opportunity to bring it to the north east, as many people from this part of the country did not get the chance to see it in London.

“It is great for us to bring it here as it brings it to an important site as it really resonates with the community, as thousands of miners went to fight in World War One.

“It is a huge coup for Woodhorn.”

The design took a week to install on the site, with volunteers helping to unwrap the poppies which had been packed from the original exhibition.

Paul Cummins and Tom piper with Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

Paul Cummins and Tom piper with Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

Volunteer Susan MacKellar, who helped put the sculpture together, said: “We were emptying out the boxes from when it was packed up in London, and getting everything ready to be installed here at Woodhorn.

“I think it is brilliant, it’s the first time I’ve seen the finished piece and I think it’s fantastic.

“It was great to be in the workshop helping to put it all together.”

The artwork is currently touring sites around the UK until 2018 before being put on permanent display at the Imperial War Museum.

Keith Merrin with Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

Keith Merrin with Weeping Window at Woodhorn. Picture by Jane Coltman

Youngsters from two Ashington schools were able to see the sculpture on Friday ahead of its public unveiling at the weekend.

Louise Hall, head of centre at Bothal Primary School, said: “We have done an awful lot of work with the children about the war and about respect, and they are delighted to be some of the first to see the sculpture.

“It’s wonderful that it is in Ashington as so many of the children wanted to see it when it was in London but weren’t able to, so for it to come here is fantastic.”

Lewis Raffle, eight, from Bothal Primary School, said: “It is important to remember all the people who died, and it is really special to be the first people to see the sculpture on the tour.

“I think it is very nice and I feel very privileged to see it.”

Clare Marriott, head of Josephine Butler campus of the Northumberland Church of England Academy, said: “We have been doing a lot of work around remembrance and they came along to see this installation to tie in with what they have been learning and what this represents.

“It’s wonderful that they can now bring their families back to see this.”

Nine-year-old Lily Wilkinson, from Josephine Butler, said: “It is really pretty to see close up. I feel really excited because it is a really good thing to have where we live.

“It is a good way to remember all the people who died so that we can be here.”

Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey, added: “I personally think this is a better venue than the Tower of London, as it’s a happier place for people to come.

“Northumberland has had the two stages of the Tour of Britain and now we have this exotic arts event, and I think it is absolutely fabulous.

“This is the first stop on the national tour and I may be biased but I think it is the best venue.

“A huge thank you to 1418 WOW, Woodhorn and Active Northumberland for all the work that they did to bring this here.”

Weeping Window is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high window to the ground below, or from the Colliery Wheel in the case of Woodhorn.

The other sculpture on tour, Wave, is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks.

These two sculptures will tour the country as part of the 14-18 NOW programme.

Visit www.experiencewoodhorn.com/poppies for more information about the installation.

Video by photographer Jane Coltman.