ABOUT THE 5000 POPPIES PROJECT
Between 2014 and 2018 Australia is commemorating the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. In 2015, there was a large number of activities commemorating 100 years since the Anzac Gallipoli landing.
From its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, the poppy has become a symbol of both great loss in war and hope for those left behind
As a crafting community contribution to the Anzac Commemoration, the 5000 Poppies project “planted” a field of some 257,000 poppies in Fed Square Melbourne as a stunning visual tribute to Australian servicemen and women for more than a century of service in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
Contributors were asked to hand make one or more poppies and send them to Poppy Headquarters in Melbourne Australia.
Who are the authors of the 5000 Poppies Project?
Project creators are Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight … two Melbourne based textile artists. Creative Director and Project Manager is Lynn Berry … email email@example.com
How did the project come about?
Marg and Lynn have done a number of creative yarn collaborations over many years … including our involvement in the Melbourne coral reef, The Melbourne Garden of Hope for the Cancer Council and a number of published entries in the International Freeform Guild’s annual challenge. “We have both knitted for many years and have been enjoying a more meaningful outlet with our craft” says Berry.
In 2013, they were looking to create a small “planting” of handmade poppies at the Shrine of Remembrance to Honour their fathers who fought in World War II … Marg’s Father Stan was a British Soldier and Lynn’s father Wal, an Australian Soldier.
The plan was to make and plant 120 poppies around the 14/32nd battalion’s tree in the Avenue of Honour at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. Once they started making poppies … friends thought it was a great idea and offered to make some … then their friends and family and then ultimately strangers (literally strangers on a train).
Lynn had been teaching crochet in Fed Square as part of their Community and Wellbeing Program at the time, and presented the project to Fed Square as a Community Art Installation.
At that stage they set a target of 5,000 poppies and Fed square offered space for regular workshops … plus a space for the launch display in November 2013 and display space for Anzac Day 2015 …
Humble beginnings indeed. Lynn set up a blog to keep the communication happening, and was subsequently interviewed by Cameron Wilson (Bush Telegraph Radio National).
The project literally snowballed overnight from there. Thousands of hits on the blog … lots of people getting involved. Lynn then set up a facebook group to keep everyone linked and inspired.
Regular workshops were run throughout 2013, 2014 and into 2015 in venues across Australia, and 5000 Poppies was invited to participate in a number of craft fairs and shows throughout the country. Apart from many individuals, hundreds of libraries, CWA Groups, RSL Auxiliaries, Legacy, schools, special interest groups and community groups have also taken up the challenge and are running workshops and collecting poppies in many towns around the nation. And a number of satellites have also partnered with the Project.
What was the final Poppy Count?
By early November 2014 we had almost 52,000 poppies. By March 2015, that number had risen to 257,000 plus.
Has the target been revised?
The initial target we set once we took the project to the crafting community was 5,000. We reached that total on 11 November for our official launch (just 5 months in).
What has been the response from the community?
In a word … MASSIVE.
We estimate around 50,000 contributors from around the Globe contributed to the project. (with a smattering from places farther afield). As the project progressed towards 2015, housands of poppies were arriving weekly with wonderful stories to share …. women, men and children of all ages contributed. Some made hundreds of poppies … some are making one. Every Poppy is special. And every contributor has a story. Some of those stories/dedications are shared on the blog https://5000poppies.wordpress.com/dedications/
So Anzac Day 2015
Anzac Day was amazing sea of colour on the steps of Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne. The images tell the story. It could not have been more special for the whole of the 5000 Poppies team as daylight dawned on 24 April (Anzac Day Eve) and there they were.
There were several parts to this installation … the steps of course, looking up to the amazing Gratitude Sculpture created by Adrian Eggleston, then the two fracture galleries in the Atrium where we flaunted our beautiful strings and ceramic poppies alongside gorgeous knitted and crocheted creations plus a static display in the atrium itself which is most of our non yarn poppy panels.
And it rained. And rained. And rained.
The poppies on the steps got wet of course but they survived to be moved onto Princes Bridge in the predawn light on Anzac Day with the help of the MMFB. They were wet, heavy and hard to handle … but it worked and there was barely a dry eye in the house as the marchers marched through the centre of the tribute.
After the march, again with the help of the MFB … the poppies were moved back to Fed Square for a couple more days.
The story continues
With tales of RHS Chelsea Flower Show in Chelsea England and also France, for the Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles.
IMAGES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show 2014
Sebastian at the Bendigo Wool and Sheep show 2014 (aged 10)