THE QUEENSGATE SKY OF POPPIES is an art installation that will commemorate The Battle of The Somme in World War I, a hundred years on. It will be installed in Queensgate Shopping Centre from the 6th July until the 13th November to co-incide with the timings of the battle itself.
Visitors will stand,walk and see over 1000 handmade felted poppies falling from the sky as if they were the souls of those who died reaching form heaven to connect and touch the souls of those looking and watching below. They also represent the falling raindrops that fall despite mans actions and that turned the battlefields ultimately into fields of mud.
Each poppy will represent over 1000 casualties that occurred on all sides at the Battle of The Somme-the bloodiest battle in British Military history. In Peterborough 131 men died at The Somme, a large number remembering that Peterborough was a market town at the time not the city that it is today.
On the 24th June 1916 a huge artillery barrage began with the allies expecting this to create the almost total destruction of the enemy lines which would enable the allied troops to walk out of their trenches and easily take the trenches and land in front of them. As history has shown this did not happen and on the 1st July when the men went over the top a bloodbath was the result with over 20,000 casualties on the first day alone from allied troops. 60% of the officers that day died in the first few minutes. The failure of the artillery on this occasion was a major contributor to the carnage that occurred and I decided that this should be the starting point for THE SKY OF POPPIES. This is why the installation will open on the 24th June commemorating the start of the barrage that so tragically failed the men who depended on its success.Part of the installation will be based on the shells that were so depended on but were so ineffective in reality.
Sketches of shells in a museum in Belgium and The Menin Gate Ypres.
As an artist I am reluctant at this point to reveal too many details of how the installation will look. Partly because I want it to be seen in the space it will be created for at the time the viewer is present- so I guess that is no spoilers….but also because when you create work over a period of time that work throughout the process changes for the better as your knowledge and thoughts impact on the artwork you are creating. So what I think I am creating will be different at the end. And an element of surprise creates different emotions and expectations to when you think you know what will be seen.
It will however be beautiful.respectful, red, thought provoking and emotional in its nature. It will involve hundreds of people in its creation by making hand made felted poppies in workshops with myself and Artisan Felter Eve Marshall. It will connect people to stories from The Great War and it will be a tribute to the men of Peterborough and those of the world who died in the trenches of The Somme. That I can and will say.
More information is available on my website www.charronpugsleyhill.com and my blogs.