Weeping Window - poppies at Caernarfon Castle

The “Weeping Window” ceramic poppies sculpture, first displayed at the Tower of London in 2014 to mark the centenary of the Great War, is currently on display at Caernarfon Castle.

A poignant sculpture on display at Caernarfon Castle has attracted thousands of visitors to the town in recent weeks, providing an excellent example of art contributing towards regeneration and tourism in towns like Caernarfon.

“The Poppies: Weeping Window” display from the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation opened on 11th October and will remain at Caernarfon Castle until 20th November.

Weeping Window sees thousands of handmade ceramic poppies cascading from a high window at the castle, pooling on the ground below. Seen from a distance, it looks as though blood is trickling down the side of the castle; a poignant tribute to the victims of the First World War, in which there were some 38 million casualties. This figure is made up of 17 million deaths and 20 million wounded – one of history’s deadliest conflicts and rather deserving of its alternative moniker, ‘The Great War’.

The poppies sculpture, along with its sister sculpture, “Wave”, was created by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. The two sculptures are being displayed around the country as part of the 14-18 NOW programme, which seeks to prompt a new dialogue around the legacy of WWI all over the UK.

The sculptures first appeared at the Tower of London’s 2014 installation “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”. While on display at the Tower of London the sculptures were surrounded in stages by the ceramic poppies, each individually planted by volunteers in remembrance of a fallen WWI soldier. Over five million people visited the poppies during their time at the Tower of London.

We have long associated the poppy with remembrance and the Great War, thanks to the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by John McCree. Written in 1915, the poem was inspired by McCree’s attendance at his friend and fellow soldier’s funeral.

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.

Since the First World War, we have become accustomed to seeing the poppy used in commemoration of lives lost or destroyed by war, thanks to its many decades of use as a symbol of remembrance by the Royal British Legion in its annual Poppy Appeal, which raises money to provide support and assistance to servicemen and women.

The Weeping Window sculpture can be visited for free, including free entry to the castle, on presentation of tickets that are available from caernarfonpoppies.eventbrite.co.uk.