888,246 poppies for Tower of London made by hand

Date: 13 Apr 2016

Bumblebee Design

Paul Cummings, British ceramic artist who created‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London, talks about his famous installation and trends in the ceramics sector.


Tell us about Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red?

As the project was born from my own idea, it was a monumental personal undertaking for me and was something I will always be proud of. The biggest challenge was the sheer size of the project. I took the idea to the Tower of London, but then the huge undertaking of hand crafting 888,246 poppies began which meant I needed to logistically create artwork on a huge scale, something I had done previously but not to this extent. The success of the project, and its popularity across the globe was unexpected but greatly appreciated. We had visitors flying in to ‘plant’ poppies in the moat at the Tower, telling their own stories of loss and remembrance. These have stuck with me and always will. 


Are you exploring new technologies or do you stick to traditional techniques?

New technologies are beneficial to pottery, to help speed up the process of creating art. However, I am a big believer in traditional methods of ceramic creation and try and utilise ancient techniques where possible. All my art is handmade as well, I wouldn’t want to ever steer away from this. 


 What trends do you see in the ceramics sector?

I’ve seen that pottery over the years has increased in popularity. I believe TV, news and media content surrounding pottery and ceramics have increased public knowledge around the art form and how beautiful it can be. Handmade ceramic art seems to be on the up this year, with more people becoming interested in this historical form of creation. 

Picture: courtesy University of Derby