01 September 2017

The construction of Poppies: Wave at CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial

Poppies: Wave opened at CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial on Wednesday 23 August. Specially presented by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions to mark the centenary of the First World War, Wave is a sweeping arch of bright red poppy heads suspended on towering stalks by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.


This is the first time the sculpture has been fixed to a monument dedicated to remembering the war dead of the two world wars.

To protect the Grade I listed memorial an artificial base for the poppies had to be created ahead of the sculpture’s installation. Work to build the base began at the memorial a week before its official opening.

The main challenge with the site is the fact that it is stone. This meant the artist and designer have had to create the illusion of a stone pavement for the poppies to come out of; it is actually made of wood, painted to look like stone.

The CWGC’s Liz Woodfield said: “We will let the grass within the memorial grow up around the poppies during their stay to create the impression the poppies are emerging from their natural landscape. Wave fits the memorial perfectly – it’s almost as if they were made for each other – and I’d urge anyone interested to visit.”

Poppies: Wave is free to view and open to the public daily until 19 November, with CWGC volunteers on hand from 10am to 6pm to tell the story of Wave, the Commission and the memorial.

Wave is one of two sculptures taken from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London in 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one for every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War.

For more about the memorial, read Plymouth Naval Memorial: the history and design