The Day Has Arrived …

Hello all … it feels like forever and no time at all since we started this journey.

In fact it’s just over three years now when Marg and I sat down over a lovely glass of Pinot Noir and said to each other “what’s next”.  And just like magic … here we are!

chelsea 2016 artist impression_RT-SmallAnd it is magic don’t you think?  The way the whole thing has grown and grown … a little heart has gone a long long way. And this time next week … we will be showing of our poppies to the world.

So a huge thank you again to all of our contributors …. many and varied, our major sponsors the Victorian Government for your joyful support of our wonderful project.  We simply could not have done it without you.

VIC_LOGO_FAOur official carriers Qantas who have been absolutely amazing.

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And our many supporters … including the Victorian RSL, Carpet Call, the wonderful team at Grit Communications.

Carpet Call logoPrintgrit_brandAnd of course, there is Phillip and his amazing team at Phillip Johnson Landscapes.  I cannot say enough about the amount of work they have done to get us to Chelsea … its a miracle of grit and determination … brilliant work … especially you Vaughn (I know you will read this).

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Keep an eye on facebook for updates.  You can join the group at 5000 Poppies, or like our page at 5000 Poppies at RHS Chelsea and we are also on Instagram … @5000Poppies and #5000poppies.  There will be no shortage of photos I would think, given the team of wonderful volunteers who are coming over to help with the job of install and deinstall.  WOW … such commitment.  We are all very excited and I just know will have an enormous amount of fun … its the culmination of a lot of hard work.

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And if you are feeling inspired.  You can continue to make poppies … but more on this when we return.

Next stop RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

 

 

 

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Milestones …

Another huge week at PHQ this week.  Tada!!!! Despite the fact that our official completion of the poppy nets was back on 17 March …. we found that quite a few of our earlier repairs were not up to the standard we would have liked … so we went back over the first 40 nets again.  Fussy I know … but we are definitely pleased we did … even though it was a LOT more work than we hoped … we know it will be worth it when Her Majesty walks out beautiful red carpet in just a few weeks time.

So … everything was finished, packed and ready for the truck when it arrived on Friday morning and spirited away our precious cargo to Qantas for final packing into containers ready to ship.  What can I say … I think Qantas is as excited as the rest of us … they even printed up some gorgeous decals to place all over the shipping containers.   No prizes for guessing what’s in those containers.  Next stop London.  Cannot thank our wonderful friends at Qantas enough.

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My garage!!!

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And so … speaking of carpet.

I am always in awe of the power of the sentiment behind this project … At it’s heart it is a simple and poignant (if large) tribute to those who have served and sacrificed for us … and it is truly difficult not to be moved by its intensity and beauty.  And … at it’s soul are the amazing contributors and volunteers and sponsors and those who have cheered from the sidelines.  You have made this project.

Phillip’s wonderful design for Chelsea incorporates over 300 metres of red carpet, creating an impressive walkway through the centre of the installation.  In reality this is a very special invitation for Her Majesty to walk through our “field” of poppies – which we truly hope she will do.  How could she resist???

I have to say that when we put out a quiet (if VERY late) call recently for someone to help us to find a carpet large enough to create our “red carpet” for the Queen we were thrilled with an immediate response from our friends at Carpet Call.  Not only have they agreed to sponsor carpet for the installation and have stated that they are honoured to do so … but they are making it especially for us AND they are delivering to site in London.  Time is tight but they have been amazing!!!!  We cannot thank you and your wonderful team enough!!

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And as always … we want to mention our continuing appreciation to the Victorian Government …who have been right behind this amazing journey to Chelsea.  We will do you proud.

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Countdown to Chelsea

The days seem to be rushing by in a flurry of Chelsea related activity. The minutiae involved in pulling this all together is astonishing … for the most part it’s Vaughn, Phillip Johnson’s project manager who is juggling all the balls.  So with just on a month to go until we head off and 38 days I believe until the show opens … there is constant movement.Phillip Johnson LogoThis week we had a wonderful turnout for the farewell from the Victorian Parliament for the poppies.  In stunning sunshine … we sat for the cameras on the steps of Parliament House.  It was fun for us … who have worked with the poppies for so long now, to be able to enjoy our day in the sun … and to see the poppies weaving their magic on our politicians and the general public.  There were tears shed … it is a very moving tribute … and the Parliament House backdrop was amazing.  And it was a huge bonus that there was a reception at Parliament for our Vietnam Veterans on that day so we had an opportunity to talk to them about the project … although most of them knew about the project … to see them close up was wonderful.

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Our photographer Clare Takac’s images are spectacular and I can now tick another dream off my poppies list.  Shrine of Remembrance 2013 … TICK, Anzac Day 2015 Fed Square and Princes Bridge …. TICK and TICK, Melbourne International Flower Show … TICK, Parliament House steps … TICK.  RHS Chelsea Flower Show …. COMING SOON.

And then there is the ongoing dream … Western Front …. WATCH THIS SPACE,  Anzac Day match, MCG Melbourne 2018 … STILL A DREAM and Australian War Memorial Remembrance Day 2018 … STILL A DREAM.  Lots of planning and scheming yet to be done post Chelsea.  Of course in between those times we have  loaned our beautiful poppies to a number of organisations to support their own local commemorative efforts, and will continue to do so where we can.  That’s all part of the dream too!!!_F5A0038_F5A9911

_F5A9997So … back to reality … and it looks like our wonderful Qantas sponsors will be begin  shipping part of our precious cargo in the next week.  Untitled-1The wait is nearly over!!!!

 

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It’s all becoming very real and we are getting soooooo close!!!

Oh dear just looked at my last post … February.  How the months are flying.  And I just know there are many of you who are keen to know how we are going with our preparations for Chelsea.

So firstly, the big big big news … is that John Eren, Victorian Government Minister for Veterans Affairs, and Qantas – Australia’s premier airline announced yesterday that Qantas are generously sponsoring the shipment of our beautiful poppies to Chelsea for us. It’s an amazing thing to see our Government, Corporate and the Arts come together to help to share our beautiful tribute with the world.  We could not be more thankful.

Qantas have calculated the total shipment size to be 35 cubic metres.  According to them that’s half the cargo hold of the A380 airbus.  That is huge!!!

Qantas-1 And we are almost ready. Our fabulous teams of poppy makers, icorders, goopers, end stitcherinners and poppy attachers have created more than 100 boxes of beautifully made poppy stems packed and ready to go.  The 80 nets which we completed a few weeks ago are just being rechecked for the final time and a number of the earliest ones have been found to be not quite to our current standards so we are reworking them (yes I know we are all perfectionists – but we wouldn’t want it any other way).  The team is working with renewed energy to be sure that it is all perfect for the Queen … and all will be ready in around two weeks or so.  Phillip Johnson and his magnificent team are working working working the logistics to make sure it all runs smoothly once we are on the ground in London.  All systems are go!!!!!

chelsea 2016 artist impression_RT-SmallAnd then the 1200 stems which we have lovingly prepared in Melbourne ready to have the poppy blooms attached by our poppy cousins “Knitting for Victory” in the UK via have arrived and so that wonderful part of the project is underway as well.  Very soon, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be awash with our stunning handcrafted poppies in spectacular tribute to our heroes, their families and their communities.

We are excited and proud of what we have all achieved as a community.  Many many many hands and hearts involved …

Look what you have created!!!!!

 

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We are getting there …. countdown to Chelsea

With only 12 weeks to RHS Chelsea to go … we are working at a fever pitch to ensure that our panels and stems are completed.  Many, many thousands of woman (and man) hours in the making, I am thrilled to say that we are almost to the ready stage.  More than  20,000 stems are under construction with over 16,000 completed and returned already, and we have completed the refurbishment of 78/80 of our beautiful nets.  An amazing accomplishment.  Our final date for completion of the Chelsea Installation is 17 March, and we will wearing green that day for St Patrick’s day as we  place the last of our poppies on the 80th panel and then it will be party time.  So from midday onwards it’s open house at Poppy Headquarters for a nibble and a champers.  Feel free to join us if you are able (bring a plate or a bottle to share if you would like).   If you don’t know where we are you can pm me on facebook or you can email me.  Suffice to say Glen Iris Victoria Australia.  However, don’t let a little geography stop you from celebrating locally if you can’t make it here.  We are getting excited!

Fed Square Banner Pic - CopyThere will still be work to do once we have completed all the nets and stems.  We still need to check the returned nets (that have been on loan) for any minor repairs needed – although in truth we are expecting very little will need to be done; we are creating an additional 5000 stems (icorded and ready for poppies) to send over to the UK in the hope that we can add some poppies from the UK to the display (that’s exciting); we will also be sewing individual duffel bags for each of the nets to protect them in transit (I expect there will be a sewing bee at PHQ announced shortly on facebook (BYO sewing machine) and we will be creating a small but meaningful display for Anzac Day in Melbourne.  We are also looking forward to seeing all the poppies come out for Anzac Day in many other areas around Australia.  Don’t forget to post your pics on facebook to share with the whole group.  We love to see your poppy pics.

_F5A1211So the work will not stop in the short term.

Looking forward to our post Chelsea plans … we are still hoping to take at least part of the installation to the Western Front … in particular Pozieres (Windmill site) in July and Phillip’s team has already started work on the design.  This is obviously funding dependent, and so there is still a lot of work to be done on making it a reality.  And if it works it will be amazing, but if it doesn’t we will be incredibly proud of what we have already achieved.

So, we hope you can make it on the 17th March.

Feel free to join in the conversation on facebook if you’d like to follow us more closely.

Again, I would like to thank Phillip Johnson and his team at Phillip Johnson Landscapes for their amazing commitment to the project, and of course State Government of Victoria for helping to make our Chelsea dream a reality … I still pinch myself everyday!

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Chelsea Musings and Other Poppy Related Paraphernalia

We have had a mammoth couple of weeks with the formal announcement of our RHS Chelsea appearance.  We are continuing work on the nets and stems and it feels like the whole team has lifted with the announcement and we are working at a feverish pace to make sure the installation is perfect for it’s unveiling to the world in May. Phillip’s team has done such an amazing job on the design and we are all very excited.

chelsea 2016 artist impression_RT-SmallOn that note, I have been thinking over the last few days about how honoured I am to be a part of this project.  I have said often that despite the fact that it has taken over my life for the last 3 years (and not only MY life), I still feel incredibly privileged to be doing this.

There are so many elements to the project … there is of course the poppy … or many thousands of poppies, supplied by a remarkable community aged from 2 to 102 (and possibly older) from many different cultures, interest groups, community groups, schools, libraries, retirement villages and so on.  SO MANY!!!!

Then there is the group that helped to create the stunning poppy stems for our wonderful designer Phillip Johnson’s poignant tribute at the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show.

Then there is the group that helped to pull the whole thing together for Anzac Day in Fed Square.  What a challenge that was … to create a work of art from the raw materials that we had … beautiful as they were … it was so much bigger than we expected.  And we did it.  Hundreds of volunteers weekly for months to create that masterpiece.

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Then there is the group (many of the same people but some new ones) including all those wonderful men and women from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade who helped to install for Anzac Day both on the steps at Fed Square and then on Princes Bridge.  What an enormous challenge that day was … in pouring rain we made a beautiful spectacle/tribute for our veterans, their families, their friends and their communities.  That WAS something very special and I will never forget it.

The MFB in full flightAnd what a joy to see all those wonderful contributors make the journey from everywhere to see their poppies … I loved their stories, and fervently hoped that they would find their poppies among the many thousands we collected.  Some did … but some didn’t.  The excitement when someone did find their contribution still stands out in my memory of that day.

And then there were all those many other hand crafted poppy installations that were inspired by this project.  And how amazing were they … knitted and crocheted poppies everywhere at home and abroad … in all manner of creative display.  Very special!

And of course our beautiful Gratitude sculpture by Adrian Egglestone off to its new home at the PTSD Ward at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.

And you know we could have stopped after Anzac Day.  We achieved what we set out to do and it was magnificent.

But we didn’t.

And so for the last 10 months or more we have been working on rehabilitating the nets from their soaking on Anzac Day … making new stems (20,000) and creating another work of art to be unveiled to the world at the Chelsea Flower Show in London.  Another mammoth feat of superhuman endeavour …. sounds kinda epic and in many ways it IS epic … thousands upon thousands upon thousands of woman (and man) hours. Teams of people working harder than ever to create another masterpiece.

To honour our heroes …  our loved ones, our families, our friends.

This tiny personal project started out to pay tribute my gorgeous dad Wal Beasley and Marg’s wonderful dad Stan Knight who were our personal heroes.  But that is just one story of a project that is rich in stories. Every single contributor has done so for their own reasons … personal and private and/or shared with the community at large. The dedications (which are still being completed I might add) are a testament to that.  Everyone has a story behind their poppies.  I love that.

So … I am waxing lyrical as I tend to do occasionally … but my heart is bursting with gratitude for those many contributors, volunteers and supporters who have made this lovely project come to life. And of course Phillip’s team and the Victorian Government for helping us to take it to the world … it will be amazing.

And we have had so much fun!  A shared sense of purpose and many new friendships formed.  I am sure we will all miss our team meetings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and I know I will be sad when the last “guns up” is uttered.

We are nearly there!

It’s been quite a journey.

Words cannot express my gratitude to you.

Lynn xxx

 

 

 

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Game On … We are off to Chelsea 2016

Good morning poppy friends.

Today we are incredibly excited about the announcement last night that 5000 Poppies has collaborated with acclaimed landscape designer Phillip Johnson to create a spectacular 5000 Poppies installation for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 in London in May this year.

Sponsored by the Victorian Government through the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Veterans Affairs … we will be taking more than a kilometre of poppies to Chelsea.

Phillips wonderful design is stunning in it’s simplicity … and will no doubt be a highlight of the show. This magnificent artists impression by Colin Johnson shows you the size and scope of the installation with the incredible backdrop of the Chelsea Hospital … it’s going to be SPECTACULAR.

chelsea 2016 artist impression_RT-SmallThe story behind the project is amazing as most of you already know.

From humble beginnings … where Marg and I set out to crochet 120 poppies to honour our fathers’ service in WWII … Marg’s father Stan Knight was a British Soldier who fought in Europe and my father Wal Beasley an Australian Infantryman who fought in New Guinea.

As they say … from little things big things grow.

On Anzac Day last year we “planted” more than quarter of a million poppies in Fed Square in Melbourne and on Princes Bridge for our Anzac Day marchers to march through … what an incredible honour.

More than 50,000 contributors of all ages and cultural backgrounds have created a stunning selection of handcrafted poppies using many and varied techniques … knitted, crocheted, felted, stitched, beaded, tatted, embroidered, paper, ceramic and mixed media. And who can forget our stunning “Gratitude” sculpture by Adrian Egglestone and his wonderful team at Uniweld Engineering which has now found a permanent home at Ward 17 (PTSD Ward) at Heidelberg Repat … perfect.

Gratitude Anzac Day 2015 Karyn Mitchell

And now we are off to Chelsea.

It’s a dream that I never thought would come true when Former Victorian Premier and Chairman of the Anzac Centenary Committee asked where I would like to see the poppies go … way back in 2013.  At that time … almost as a throwaway line I said … “really Ted,  they belong on the world stage … I think we should take them to Chelsea”.  Not surprisingly … Ted knew just the guy to help us make it happen … that’s when Phillip came on board.

And here we are …

We have so many people to thank … not the least of which of course is those we made this tribute for … our servicemen and women, their families and the communities … and then our incredible contributors who just keep working and giving their skills and their time and bearing the burden of the costs of being involved, and those people and organisations who have supported us financially … so incredibly generous of you. And not forgetting those wonderful people in many many communities around Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world who have created their own wonderful local community tributes using the 5000 Poppies project as inspiration.

A big thank you to Federation Square for supporting us and providing us with such a spectacular space to showcase our wonderful installation.

And importantly, a HUGE thank you also Phillip Johnson and the amazing team at Phillip Johnson Landscapes for taking our wonderful vision and massaging into something truly beautiful, and of course thank you especially to the Victorian Government and all those many who have contributed to the success of this amazing tribute.

Woohoo … we are going to Chelsea!!!

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Feeling blessed

Lynn and Marg xxx

 

 

 

 

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