Leeds Remembers: How the local community filled the museum with poppies

On 1-2 July 2016 the Brodrick Hall at Leeds City Museum was filled with poppies to remember those who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme, and all the lives affected by the First World War.
©D’arcy Darilmaz
Thousands of poppies cascaded from the upper seating, down onto the giant map of Leeds. These poppies were red and white, reflecting remembrance as well as peaceful resistance to war. If you look carefully, you’ll see some shamrocks too, echoing the Irish roots of many soldiers from Leeds.
©D’arcy Darilmaz
Over 45 groups from across the city made the poppies. Many of the makers were people who are living with dementia – spot the really large poppies they made! One member of Peer Support was inspired to create this beautiful embroidery:
Inkwell Arts and Groundwork Leeds got sculptural creating these beautiful clay poppies:
In the days running up to the installation packages of poppies arrived from schools, day centres and individuals. One person made this beautiful poppy, showing Private Jogendra Nath Sen. Private Sen studied at the University of Leeds and joined the Leeds Pals in 1914. He was killed on 26 May 1916, from wounds to his neck and leg after an encounter with the enemy. His friends said “he was the cleverest man in the battalion”.
Another poppy included a beautiful poem that looks at the relationship between families and remembering:

I write this poem
to all the people
who died. and protected
us and didn’t even
fus. while you
were in the          
horrifying trenches
we sat on our
benches hoping you
would be safe
and sound and
hold your
and still fighting
till the end and
not being DeaD.
hoping you will
be next to me
in befo Day
After Day
even when it was
your birthday i
made a cake
with sauce
Remember when we met
at the lake when
you bought a
fake toy. Boy was
it funny the
teddy looked
Like bugs bunny.
I would tell
safe that daddy
would be
home and
you could
play with hime
then and both
act like a
ten years old
boy. So
Me and safe are missing
From Khabeer Fusev.
As part of the process, Curator Lucy visited several groups and schools, discussing the meaning of poppies and the effect of war on Leeds. East Leeds SILC made a heart-shaped arrangement of poppies, sewn and felted by hand by the class. One student said they’d struggled with the idea of poppies and remembering war, until they realised that “remembering is just loving”.
©Kirkstall Festival
On 8 July the poppies moved the Chapter House at Kirkstall Abbey for the Kirkstall Festival.

We’d like to thank all the people from across the city, including:

Agnis Smallwood
Alexander House
Apna Day Centre
Armley Grange Day Centre
Armley Mills Close Knit Friends
Bramley Elderly Action
Bramley War Memorial
Calverlands Day Centre
Calverley Brownies
Carr Manor Community School
Castleton Primary School
Cedars Care Home
CHIME with Leeds Irish Health & Homes
Cookridge Holy Trinity CE Primary School
Crossgates Brownies
East Garforth Primary Academy
East SILC Temple Moor Partnership
Elsie Ayre
Frederick Hurdle Day Centre
Groundwork Leeds
Holt Park Day Centre
Holy Trinity Church, Meanwood
Ingram Road Primary School
Inkwell Arts – Take Over Café & Craft Café
InterACT, Church & Community Partnership
Laurel Bank Day Centre
Leeds Concord Interfaith Partnership
Little London Arts
Middlecross Day Centre
Middlecross Residential Home
Morley Library
Peer Support Service for People Living with Dementia
Pool-in-Wharfedale CE Primary School
Rothwell Primary School
Royal Armouries
St Gemma’s Day Hospice
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School
St Matthew’s CE Primary School
Suffolk Court Residential Home
West SILC at Farnley Academy
Westborough High School
Wetherby High School
Wheatfields Day Hospice
Whitecote Primary School
Wykebeck Day Centre
Zest Health for Life
… and many other anonymous donors

How to get in touch:

If you would like to contribute to the display in the future or would like them displayed near you, please email ww1heritage@leeds.gov.uk

By Lucy Moore, Projects Curator at Leeds Museums and Galleries

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