Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is a 2014 work of installation art placed in the moat of the Tower of London, England, commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. The artist is Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper.The work's title is taken from the first line of a poem by an unknown World War I soldier, which begins: "The blood swept lands and seas of red, / Where angels dare to tread.
The work consists of a sea of ceramic red poppies, being added progressively by volunteers.All the poppies have been individually hand-made in a ceramics factory in Derbyshire.There were eventually 888,246 of these, representing one estimate of the number of British and Colonial military fatalities in World War I. The sea of flowers is arranged to resemble a pool of blood which appears to be pouring out of a bastion window (the "Weeping Window").
The first poppy was planted on 17 July 2014, and the work was unveiled on 5 August (the centenary of Britain's entry into the war). A team of about 17,500 volunteers put the poppies in place. The last one was planted on 11 November 2014 (Remembrance Day), by a 13-year-old cadet, Harry Hayes, from the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) of Reading Blue Coat School. After that day a team of about 8000 volunteers began removing the flowers.Members of the public had been able to purchase the ceramic poppies, with a share of the proceeds going to six service charities: COBSEO, Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion, and SSAFA.
At around sunset each day between 1 September and 10 November, the names of 180 World War I service personnel, nominated by members of the public to appear on a Roll of Honour, were read aloud by a Yeoman Warder, followed by the Last Post bugle call.
On 8 November it was announced that the Wave segment – a steel construction with poppies around the Tower entrance – would remain in place until the end of the month, then tour the UK with the Weeping Window section