Poppies and remembrance

photo of poppies

Red poppy taken in the fields of East Riding, Yorkshire © Lee Karen Stow

The poppy, despite its delicate appearance, is able to generate new life when everything else has been destroyed. Lee Karen Stow has photographed poppies of many colours to represent women around the world caught up in war. In the 1930s the rare white poppy was adopted by women as a symbol of peace. 

Commemorating those who suffered through conflict has become a legacy of the First World War. During the centenary years, we often remember the war poem 'In Flanders Fields' written in 1915, by Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae. 

Largely forgotten is the moment in 1918 when, inspired by this poem, an American, teacher Moina Belle Michael conceived the idea of the silk poppy as a blood red symbol, to forever remember the victims of war.

"Alone... in a high moment of resolve, I pledged to keep the faith and always to wear a red poppy of Flanders Field as a sign of remembrance" Moina Belle Michael

On display

'The Miracle Flower', the autobiography of Moina Belle Michael, was one of the poignant objects on display in the Poppies: Women and War exhibition, which has now closed.

Visitors could also see a ceramic poppy from the 'Blood Swept lands and Seas of Red' art installation at the Tower of London in 2014. Each of the 888,246 poppies in the installation represented a British military fatality during the First World War. All of the poppies were later sold to raise money for charity.

Poppy Field project

Poppy Field is an independent project reflecting on human life lost in war, created in 2014 to mark the centenary of the First World War. See their visualisation of war fatalities at poppyfield.org

In Flanders Fields

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.