Those of you who see my blog regularly will already have gathered my love of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

P1060312As part of the commemorations for the 1914-18 War the ‘Poppy Wave’ is one of 2 traveling installations from the Tower of London and it has been installed at YSP, in the New Year it moves to Lincoln.

The Poppies were not the main reason for my visit, the installation in London was huge and worked on the basis of who it represented with each poppy being an individual who fell, and this gave it a scale that was never going to be matched at YSP. I went to see it knowing that it would not have the scale and thought that I may be making a token visit for that reason. In fact I found it to be a unique and fascinating visit and it has been thought provoking both at the time and subsequently, and that was not what I expected.

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With the intention of shooting the Poppy Wave I had to determine what I want to say about the lives of the soldiers it stands for and the war they were engaged in. I have never been to war, my knowledge of it is gained almost entirely second hand through written media, film and TV.

P1060303The majority of the pictures of the Poppies out there are little more than attractive chocolate box images, many shot in near perfect conditions on a sunny day, whilst many images talk about the scale of the fatalities I suggest that it’s more by chance than intention.

P1060304It was not a nice day when I went, at one point it was trying to rain, what I found the poppies doing was talking to me about the finality of death and how whilst individuals are remembered those who have been lost are lost for good, it also talked about how all those in conflict are intertwined. What surprised me though was it also talked to me about the men whilst they were alive, and how as ordinary young men many will have had aspirations and dreams they would otherwise have been reaching for. The most powerful image for me is of loud, noisy, lively individual men, with the banter and character you find in groups of men, but separately and darkly the same image in the midst of war shouts with the fear of forthcoming death.

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