Yesterday our CEO Mark Selby, an ambassador for Middleport Pottery was invited along for the pre-launch of the Weeping Window at Middleport Pottery. Clare Underwood, director of Middleport welcomed everyone for the preview and delivered the amazing story behind the spectacle.
Weeping Window is a waterfall of colour comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high location to the ground below.
The sculpture, alongside Wave, a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper 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 Summer and Autumn of 2014.
Over the course of time at the Tower, the sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of every British or colonial lives lost during the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.
14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, is presenting the iconic sculptures at selected locations around the UK until 2018. They have already been seen by 4 million people in 16 locations.
Weeping Window is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces.
Weeping Window is one of two sculptures from the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation, originally displayed at the Tower of London in 2014. The original artwork consisted of 888,246 poppies, one to commemorate every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War.
The two poppy sculptures being presented across the UK, have been saved for the nation by the Backstage Trust and the Clore Duffield Foundation, and gifted to 14-18 NOW and Imperial War Museums. 14-18 NOW gives people across the UK a chance to experience the impact of the poppy sculptures in a range of places with links to the First World War.
Poppies: Weeping Window in Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent is officially recognised as the World Capital of Ceramics, and Middleport Pottery has been operating since 1889. During the First World War demand for the ceramics goods made in the area greatly increased. These included tableware for hospitals, homes and the military; propaganda-ware, including small ceramic tanks and battleships; plates with patriotic designs or messages on them; and ceramics to mark both the early stages of war and the Armistice at the end.
The war also saw women taking on bigger roles in the pottery industry; with the men volunteering or being called-up, they came to the fore as decorators and designers, taking key roles from men and being recognised after the war as leading lights.
Middleport Pottery is the last regional tour venue before it moves to its final presentation at Imperial war Museum London before moving into the long-term ownership of the Imperial War Museum.
Article sources: www.english-heritage.org.uk and www.middleportpottery.org