Good morning poppy friends.
We are now into our final week of organisation before the big event next week.
For the past two years we have been collecting your beautiful poppies for what promises to be the most spectacular community event on the Anzac Centenary Calendar, and for the past eight weeks we have been working solidly on the physical display … it has taken every ounce of energy and every second of our time and the help of many hundreds of volunteers to get to where we are today… we have constructed 80 – 10 x 1 metre panels of poppies (800 square metres) on nets and a further 14 panels – 2 x 1 metre panels of non yarn poppies … They are absolutely beautiful … works of art and so imbued with our respect and gratitude for our servicemen and women and their families … It has been a labour of love and such an honour to be involved with this project, and with the contributors and volunteers … many personally but also those who contribute not only their beautiful handcrafted poppies, but also through our facebook group and other channels.
Marg and I were playing with some numbers during the week and we estimate (and we realise that it’s an incredibly conservative estimate) that well in excess of 50,000 contributors and volunteers … and more than 130,000 hours have gone into making this tribute alone… We have received more than 250,000 poppies and have spent many thousands of hours of assembly, admin and organisation. That doesn’t include the many thousands of hours that have been spent on making poppies in the community for local display that this project has sparked …
I must also make mention of Phillip Johnson (Phillip Johnson Landscapes) who has been tireless in his dedication to this project … his stunning garden at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden show was amazing and a real teaser for the big event … he has been amazing. We are lucky and incredibly grateful to have his help. Also I would like to recognise the efforts of Ted Baillieu … who has promoted the project everywhere he can throughout the last two years … both personally and in his capacity as the Chairman of the Anzac Centenary Committee in Victoria. I also want to thank the RSL State President: Major General David McLachlan AO and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle, who have both supported the inclusion of the poppies in the march … so our veterans and their families can fully appreciate the depth of feeling from the national (and international) community. We have been lucky to have these men in our corner. They have helped to move mountains.
From little things … big things grow.
So … now the hour is almost upon us and we are all about to launch our tributes.
I must say, without reservation, it has been an honour working with you, and Marg and I cannot thank you enough for your involvement, creativity and commitment to our wonderful project.
So … a few important dates and information :
Our initial installation will be activated on the main forecourt in Fed Square Melbourne on Friday 24 April (we will be installing on Thursday evening). You can visit the site on Friday and see our beautiful field of poppies in all its glory. There will also be a static display in the Atrium in Fed Square and both Fracture Galleries … at Flinders Street and Deakin Edge. There will be poppies on strings, loose poppies, stunning ceramic poppies and many others … these displays will be set up over Thursday and Friday so will be up in time for Anzac Day.
On Friday morning there will be a press conference in Fed Square at 10.30 a.m. You are all invited to come along for our presentation to the world at large.
Also on Friday we are planning to meet en masse in the late afternoon (with families in tow) to marvel at our creation and perhaps share a drink (although I am told by Fed Square that we cannot drink in the Square proper … there are a number of establishments in the upper square and lower that we can congregate in at some stage for a celebratory drink). There will be no formal ceremony … but many to share a poppy making yarn with as we celebrate a job incredibly well done (that feels like an understatement in light of what we have achieved over the last two years). If you are in Melbourne, Marg and I would love it if you could join us at 5.00 p.m. Friday 24th on the forecourt in front of the display in Fed Square.
On Saturday morning (while many are at the Dawn service), much of the original display on the forecourt will be moved onto Princes Bridge (down the road) for the duration of the march … to allow our marchers to march through them. It will be a very emotional thing for us I guess and also for the marchers to be able to walk through the middle of our tribute … I expect there won’t be a dry eye in the house. After the march they will be moved back to Fed Square for the remainder of Saturday and all of Sunday.
On Sunday night the poppies will be moved out of the weather and down to the Atrium (under cover), although we will not have space for all of our panels. They will stay in the Atrium until Friday May 1 and then the panels will be put into storage. the remainder of the display in the two Fracture Galleries will stay until at least May 4. So there will still be poppies to see …
This is quite a complex activation I know but it is a great way to allow as many people as possible to see as much of the display as possible.
We have enough volunteers listed to cover all the physical work … but spare a thought for us … it will be very hard work. I will be contacting those who have volunteered in the next day or so to lock in times.
I think that is it.
Except that … we are now taking EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST from those wishing to apply to exhibit all or part of the display over the next four years. The whole display … or at least our 80 panels are planned to go to Perth for Remembrance Day this year but other than that … nothing else is locked into place. If you wish to contact me directly to express your interest in displaying all or part of the installation at a gallery or event … please let me know by email : email@example.com with the subject line Expressions of Interest.