Do you want to help us plant – Canberra 2018?

Oh my … the first weeks of back to work for us have been nothing short of astounding.  Reminiscent of the latter days of collecting for our installation in Federation Square back in 2015.

This is another long post …

So, in truth, with all the poppies flooding in, we can safely say that we have enough poppies to complete our AWM installation well ahead of schedule.  We are mindful that there are still many people out there who are to send their poppies in, and so we are working on a couple of really exciting plans to incorporate all poppies into both the AWM installation, and another (as yet unannounced) installation also in Canberra for the Centenary of Armistice.

It seems as a nation, we can’t get enough of handmade poppies … we have received in excess of 50,000 beautiful handmade poppies since we returned at the end of January.  Who knew???

It saddens me to say … but please … send in your completed poppies now and don’t start any new ones for us.  There are, however, many other poppy installations which have sprung up around the country that you can get involved in.

It’s has been absolutely mesmerising … the heart that has gone into creating this beautiful tribute … your hearts, your histories, your memories, your love, honour and respect.

I am astounded and grateful and overwhelmed and very very excited.

As I mentioned in my last post, our collection for the RSL Poppy Appeal  2018 is also  complete (months ahead of schedule) and we are now focused solely on Remembrance Day in Canberra. And so … our key dates are now set for Canberra and they are :

24 September, grounds team (that’s not us) arrives on site to set up perimeter fencing and other necessaries, and start work on groundworks.  The groundworks consist of creating pathways by pulling up existing turf and laying fake turf to create wheelchair and pedestrian pathways to ensure a safe, even pedestrian and wheelchair accessible surface for the duration of the installation.

29 September planting begins in earnest.  This will be a massive install … no doubt about it.  It will require able bodies (lots of lifting, carrying, bending and kneeling involved), a bit of stamina and some precision planning … not to mention care … It won’t be a race … and we will need a commitment from all our volunteers to set times.  At this stage we are planning to work in teams over two shifts a day for as long as it takes … We are estimating 3+ days for the job followed by cleanup and packup.

5 October – 12 November …The installation opens officially to the public on 5 October from the last week of Floriade and will be in situ for 5 weeks. The installation will be accompanied by a light show and some spectacular music curated by Chris Latham http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/chris-latham-is-the-australian-war-memorials-first-musical-artist-in-residence-20170420-gvow6n.html

11 November of course will be the big day and we may need to do some work perhaps the day before to facelift the installation. This will be a ticketed event and will require you to apply for tickets online when the online ticketing opens sometime in September/October.  Tickets are free but limited so I urge you to ensure that you book your tickets as early as possible for the event if you want seating.

During the installation period which is over 5 weeks/7 days per week, we will need volunteers to man the installation and talk about the project.  Local connections are preferable for obvious reasons … and we are still working on this part of the deal, but if you would like to be involved in manning the installation during that time … it involves talking about the project to visitors (local and tourists) and doing regular housework to ensure that the installation is holding up to the elements.  We will certainly need a lot of help with this tasks as well.  We have approached our local Rotary Club in Melbourne to make connections with the Rotary Club in Canberra, to see if they would be willing to assist with both planting and manning the installation.

It’s a big ask, but I think amongst us we will have enough volunteers to manage.  We have worked very, very hard to get to this stage and it will be worth every single minute of our time.

It is going to be beautiful.

12 November is bump out and again we will need a substantial team to pull out, clean up and repack the stems for distribution … this phase will take 3-4 days.  Not as hard a job physically as the planting, but nevertheless painstaking.  So again, we are asking for volunteers to make this part of the job seamless.  The next few months will see an increase in our workloads to complete the installations we have planned as part of the end of the Centenary.

At the risk of repeating myself over and over … this spectacular tribute has been an absolute privilege not only for myself and Marg and the whole amazing core team who have worked with us for most of the last five plus years, but for all of you.  SIMPLY AMAZING!

For us, as a collective, to have created this beautiful, heartfelt, grass roots community tribute to those 62,000 brave souls and their families and communities who paid the ultimate price for King and Country … what we have made/are making has been an absolute labour of love as well as an honour and a privilege.

Marg and I always knew when we started 5000 Poppies, that it was very special … because for us it was and is about our dads. And the response from crafters across the nation and beyond has been so very, very powerful,, and now, instead of being just about our dads, it’s about our collective stories … fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, great grandfathers and great grandmothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles and aunts, friends, colleagues.

I can honestly say, this is THE most important WORK I have ever done in my life … and I think many of you will feel the same.

So we hope you can join us for these incredibly important last steps in our journey.

It’s going to be absolutely amazing and without wishing my life away, I really can’t wait.

I have created an application form on the blog for potential volunteers to complete and either email or mail into us.  My skills in creating online form are nil, so at this point these are the only ways to apply.  If this changes I will let you know.

Just a last note.  If you wish to view the exhibit and you need to travel … accommodation will be a challenge until after Floriade, which finishes on 14 October, and then again in the leadup to Remembrance Day.  I urge you, if you are not intent on being at the Remembrance Day service on 11 November, to make your plans to visit the installation during those intervening weeks … when it will be less crowded.  That way you will be able to get a seat amongst the poppies and truly immerse yourself in the experience.  I can assure you … it will be worth it.

 

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