Poppy project grows

Written by Kerrie Alexander

Nine incredibly talented local poppy artists have come together for the ‘Lest We Forget’ poppy project, which incorporates crafting 1443 single ceramic Flanders poppies and then ‘planting’ them on the grassed slope of the light horse memorial for Anzac Day services in 2022.

Poppy Project leader Fliur-Louise Genevieve – an ex-service member of the Royal Australian Navy – said the tribute will be a visual art installation that recognises the service and sacrifices made by those who are listed on the light horse memorial, Freedom Park, and the Pialba Memorial Cenotaph.

There will also be one lone purple poppy to commemorate the animals that served during conflicts.
“The poppies will occupy a space of approximately 50 square meters and we hope those who view them will pause for a moment of reflection upon the service and sacrifices made by all military members and how these allow us to enjoy the freedom and lifestyle we all enjoy,” Fliur-Louise said.

While the poppy project was inspired by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, who conceived and then developed the 2014 Tower of London poppy installation, the design of these poppies is original to the group.

This includes the talents of volunteer artists Annie Alexander, Camille Sangster, Fay Thomson, Helen Kirk, Irene Brown, Jo Shadbolt, Kaye Moffat, Ruth Dillon and Irene’s husband Alec who singlehandedly preparing all the poppies stems.

Poppy artist Helen said when making the poppies she is thoughtful of the sacrifices these military personnel have made and as such each poppy is lovingly created with a service person and their sacrifices in mind. They take about two- and-a-half hours to complete from start to finish and an additional two days to fire the poppies.

When planted in the garden each poppy stands approximately 35cm tall, are designed to be outside and will hold water so that small birds can drink from them.

“It was important that the poppy was constructed in a way that could be readily replicated, and as such are hand sculpted with the assistance of a mould and petal templates,” she said.

“This ensures that each poppy is similar in size but is completely individual in its finishing.

“We have been very fortunate to have Fay Thomson join our team, who has extensive ceramics experience and has been able to guide the team in the firing and glazing process.

“Each poppy is truly as unique as the person commemorated.”

The project will be completed in time for the poppies to go on sale from Monday, April 11 for $25 each, until sold out and can be purchased from the foyer of the RSL.

All funds raised from the poppy sales will go to Mates4Mates charity, who work with the military community (both serving and veterans) and their families to offer strong mental health and wellbeing programs.

The group hopes to raise $45,000 for the not-for-profit charity.

“Poppies need to be pre-purchased prior to the display and then collected after Anzac Day.

“Each poppy is one of a limited number and as such we expect demand to be significant, so on the first day of sale only RSL members will be able to purchase these poppies.

“We are confident that the funds raised will make a real difference.”

The project is proudly sponsored by a $6000 grant from the Hervey Bay RSL Community Grants Program and a $6000 donation from the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch.

Local businesses are also encouraged to support the project by purchasing one of 14 mounted poppies, which have an identifying number on dog tags and are ideal for display in an office.

“These poppies will sell for the value of their numerical number and we are delighted that our first poppy in this collection, number 1000 has been sold to Vivid Home Builders.

“We would love to hear from other business who would like to support Mates4Mates with a poppy purchase.”

Interested businesses can find out more by emailing poppyprojecthb@yahoo.com.

Special thanks to:
The Hervey Bay RSL and the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch for funding the project.

Cassie O’Brien from the Fraser Coast Anglican Collage for her time and assistance with firing the school’s kiln and The Bay Potters who are supporting the group with access to their kiln.

The Hervey Bay Men’s Shed for building poppy stands on very short notice.

The Pialba Bowling Club who are providing a venue for a poppy making event.

Keane’s Ceramics who supported the group with glazing requirements.