An iconic artwork marking 100 years since the ed of the Great War may add a new date to its anniversary programme by ending its centenary tour in Stornoway.
Three London-based members of the planning committee organising the 14-18 Now Centenary Art Commissions were in Stornoway yesterday (Monday July 16th) studying possible sites for a river of red poppies, flowing from a landmark building.
The committee members were shown sites including Lews Castle, the Lewis War Memorial and the sports centre in Stornoway. They’re considering locating the sculpture in Stornoway from December until early January 2019. It would be part of a series of tribute events commemorating the wreck of the transport yacht Iolaire in the early hours of January 1st 1919, with the loss of 201 sailors, mostly island men.
If any of the sites are considered suitable, the famed ‘Weeping Window’ sculpture would finish the UK’s Great War centenary tribute by marking 100 years since the Iolaire tragedy. It would be an extension to the original commemorative programme, which was to see the sculpture tour landmark buildings around Britain until Armistice Day, November 11th this year.
The moving tribute of ceramic flowers, entitled ‘Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window’ was created by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. It was first seen in 2014 at the Tower of London, when the art installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ was conceived as a public tribute to the millions lost in the Great War. By the time it was completed, 888,246 ceramic poppies had been dedicated and placed in the moat of the Tower of London by members of the public, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Since July 2015, the weeping window and towering wave of poppies, touring elements of the installation, have been seen at landmark buildings including Carlisle Castle, where the poppies are being taken down this week. They were due to finish with displays at the Imperial War Museums in Manchester and London.
But it now seems that the final tragedy of the Great War, the sinking of the Iolaire, will draw the eyes of the world to a weeping wall of poppies in Stornoway itself.
(Since being posted, this article has been modified to make clear no decision has been reached yet)
Pictures show: (above) The weeping window sculpture at St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney in July 2016, and (below) at Carlisle castle, where the poppies are just being taken down.