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.
On 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.
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.
And 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.
Lovely tribute. Travel well and safely. Marlene Hogan Buderim Queensland.
I also want to pass on my gratitude to you and Marg and your wonderful husband and family, for letting me come on this amazing journey you have all created for us to experience.
Even on holidays….. Diane knitting her umpteenth poppy in The Boathouse on King Island. A very special place to sit and relax or read, or play the piano or muse on life. Recommended for a long weekend or maybe even a week. We go every year at this time to visit our daughter and son-in-law who are farming.
Enjoying reading your letter Lyn . Our book of put Uncle’s diary has also “got legs”. It is to be featured in an tribute exhibition arranged by the Shrine staff for this years Anzac Day. Keep up your good work. Best wishes Norma
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