This paper revisits the Centenary of the First World War in the UK, offering a critical organisational perspective on the installation that became the iconic heart of the centenary programme: Blood Swept Lands & Seas of Red, an installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies ‘planted’ in the Tower of London’s moat in 2014. A centenary outsider, “Tower Poppies” became one of the most successful arts events in UK history. It has been applauded within sectoral discourse and is now a powerful cipher for the value of the Arts as deliverer of these national moments. Academic appraisal has been more restrained, suggesting the installation encouraged a limited range of responses, by mobilising historic cultural templates. This paper will offer new evidence regarding the audiences of “Tower Poppies” and the meanings they created, drawn from an AHRC-funded research project undertaken within Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), the charity/custodian of the Tower.
All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but advance registration is required.