To commemorate the British soldiers and other members of the military who died in the First World War, artists Tom Piper and Paul Cummins filled the moat of the Tower of London with ceramic poppies. There were 888,246 poppies in all, one for every military fatality. I was in London recently. By the time I was there, the poppy exhibit was being dismantled (it was only ever meant to be a temporary exhibit). It was only a shadow of its former self but it was still gave a sense of the scale of loss inflicted on just one country by the war.
Impressive as the artwork was, it might perhaps have communicated more of a sense of the grinding horror of the conflict if poppies had appeared roughly on the anniversary of the deaths they were meant to represent. That way the moat would gradually fill and only become a complete sea of blood red on the 100th anniversary of the war’s end. As is the short life of the exhibit disguises the duration of the horror of the First World War, though of course there would be logistical factors preventing that many ceramic poppies remaining in the open for four years.
More on the Tower of London poppies:
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red (the Tower of London’s own account of the installation)
Poppies at the Tower of London – readers’ pictures (Guardian readers post their own pictures of the poppies; unlike my picture above they show the exhibit when it was in full swing)