‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’



Today marks the opening of “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” a stunningly powerful installation at the Tower of London to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War I.  Artist Paul Cummins, commissioned by the British government and in  collaboration with stage designer Tom Piper, chose the poppy in ceramic form to create this visually staggering tribute.


At present, you see 120, 000 ceramic poppies spilling from The Tower of London and spreading across the dry moat and grass. More flowers will be ‘planted’ daily by volunteers throughout the summer and continuing until Armistice Day, November 11, the last day of the war.


This powerful now, one can only imagine how moving it’s going to be when the installation eventually consists of 888,246 flowers, each bloom representing the life of a British or Colonial soldier who lost his life in the war.

There will be one poppy for my paternal great-grandfather, a British soldier who lost his life in Belgium.


The flowers are being sold (£25 each) and dispersed to all buyers once the installation is ‘unplanted’. The funds will be donated to several well known U.K. veteran’s charities. Throughout the run of “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” the names of 180 WWI soldiers will be read out in a roll of Honour.



A visit to the Tower installation by the younger members of the British Monarchy earlier today.


During the evening opening ceremony, silhouettes of soldiers projected against a blood red Tower of London.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


“Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” Today through November 11, 2014, The Tower of London, London, England

How I would love to see this, wouldn’t you?





Website to purchase the poppies and see how they are made  HERE


PS. For those receiving posts via email subscription and still unfamiliar with my new site make-over,  please click on the top ‘Slim Paley’ logo to direct you to the main home page, the Daily Paleys, Travel posts and my Instagram feed 😉


Credits; 1st & 3rd photo; Speeding Dragon, scrolling photos at bottom via Instagrams as captioned. Aerial shot & Royals via DailyMail.U.K.

Close up photo of poppies; @deebrese (Instagram)




  1. This is incredibly moving. So many lives lost in wars after wars. Hopefully, this new century, although off to a poor start, will be filled with peace roses. Thanks for this inspirational post.

  2. These photos are really poignant. I had seen nothing about this on U.S. news, so thank you for finding and sharing this!

  3. This is such an artistic and moving display to illustrate the devastation to a generation in World War I, both to young men and the women they would have married. When I saw the pictures yesterday, I decided to move up my trip to October just to see this exhibit and the Imperial War Museum display.

  4. Wonderful. I wish I could see this in person. I don’t know if we are doing anything like this in the U.S. WWI was so tragic and the amount of lives that were lost is hard to comprehend. I commend the Brits for remembering and commemorating this way. Powerful.

  5. I had seen photos of this early in the installation, but your photos show so many more poppies. {You are better than the news!} That aerial shot you showed took my breath away. I can only imagine what it’s going to look like in November with all 800,000+ poppies. I would LOVE to see this in person. Hmmm…SLIM P READERS’ FIELD TRIP?!! : ) It’s really special for you after reading about your great-grandfather. I hope your dad or someone in the family gets his poppy.

    Thanks for this post. I don’t know how you scoop the news and where you find your photos, but I’m glad you do! {And hoping you might post a Daily Paley follow up in November with photos of the completed installation?!}

  6. Thank you for sharing this very beautiful and most poignant tribute – an incredibly powerful installation and a marvellous way to raise funds for those in need.

    How fortunate we are to live in relative safety today in countries such as America and Australia …

  7. WELL DONE! To the artist. I haven’t really seen any art I like in a long time but this really moved my soul. Thank you for the thought, energy, and ongoing need for interaction on this VERY MEMORABLE memorial project. WELL DONE!

  8. Hello Slim

    Thanks for honouring this sad and dark side of our history.
    How wonderful that the 25 pound donation benefits the cause and is an affordable amount,


    • Yes I agree Helen. How wonderful for the installation to be designed and dismantled in a way that gives so many people an opportunity to buy the poppies at an affordable price and spread them across the world come November.

  9. What a fantastic moving tribute to the men and women of WWI who lost their lives for our freedom…

  10. My uncle Steve Bender joined the Army right out of high school to fight in the Great War. He contracted TB as a result and was hospitalized for years at VA facilities until his early death. His unit was from Washington state. I grateful that the WWI dead are being remembered.

  11. All accolades to the imagination that created this and to you for the great photography. Fitting tribute for the ages to remember.

    • Just to clarify Lynn, none of these photos were taken by me. I gathered them from google, and instagram. They are credited at the bottom of the post.
      I agree with you, HUGE accolades to the imagination of this artist.

  12. So visually arresting and powerful. Thanks for sharing this, Slim. It’s so important to remember those who sacrificed.

  13. If there ever is a need for the argument about why art matters, this is it.
    The cascade of poppies is breathtaking; the art and science of your new web design makes it so.

  14. So beautiful and so moving. My hat is off to creative people who think of such things. Yes, wish I could see it in person. I love London.

  15. Sweet and sentimental. I actually think that the ceramic roses look prettier up close! 🙂

  16. The photo of the soldiers’ silhouettes projected on the blood red wall sent shivers
    down my spine! This is a very powerful display. And to think people wonder what
    the “point” of art is in this world? Just arresting.

  17. I seem to remember my grandfather who was in WW1 sold little red paper poppies to raise funds for the Old Soldiers Homes. Then you wore the little flower on your lapel or pinned to your dress. He didn’t die in the war but did live out his days in the old soldiers home in Yountville, California. This seems like a nod toward that. Incredible how much we have to be thankful for!

  18. These are stunning, especially the overhead shot. How I wish that I could be there on Armistice Day this year as I was in 2009. Then I could see the complete installation in all it’s beauty. The British are wonderfully faithful in remembering their war dead of the Great War. US TV stations did nothing on this and barely mentioned August 4 .

  19. Did you know Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields? The image of poppies growing amongst soldiers’ graves was the inspiration for the red poppies for remembrance. Lt Col. McCrae died of pneumonia in 1918 in France whilst commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne.

    My great grandfather joined the Australian 7th Light Horse which left Sydney in 1914. The soldiers took their own horses with them and after the war only one Australian horse came back home. The others were left in the Middle East . Many of the horses were Walers a tough Australian stock horse. Their descendants are still around today in the Middle East.

  20. I’ve been to the exhibit and taken photos – the ones you’ve put up are so much better!
    Still, even on my lousy digital camera, the emotions these poppies evoke are too strong to be ignored.
    My grandfather and his younger brother, both from Victoria BC, fought at the Battle of the Somme. My grandfather survived that day and went on to marry my grandmother. He lived until 1960.
    Upon leaving Victoria for Europe in 1914, he promised his mother he’d take care of his brother, who was last seen leading his troops into action at the same battle. Every night, until she died, my great-grandmother had the dinner table set for her lost son.
    My grandfather never lost his feelings of guilt, at having let down my mother, his brother and his father, upon whose birthday the Battle took place.
    I’m grateful to have seen the poppies in person. I’ve bought one, and dedicated another to my lost great-uncle and his broken brother, my grandfather. It seems the least I can do.
    Thanks for sharing,

  21. I was fortunate enough to see this while it was being installed. It had so much done I thought it was finished. It was not until I got back to the states that I found this site and was so excited to see all the information and pictures. I have found myself in awe of the English and how you support and honor your veterans. I felt honored to be there and I can hardly wait to get my very own poppy.

  22. I returned to this post today because although I did not comment when it was initially posted, it made a huge impact on me & I remembered it. On this Remembrance Day 2015 we fall silent to remember the massive, unimaginable amount of blood that has been spilled and remains in the ground all over the world because better people than me stepped up to fight against evil. Perhaps in 2018 something even more moving will be planned and we can all go and see it in person. Thank you for posting, Slim. Your work is must appreciated.

Leave a Reply to Phyllis Cancel reply