Iconic poppy sculpture Weeping Window opens in Stoke-on-Trent

Published: Wednesday, 1st August 2018

The iconic poppy sculpture Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper will open tomorrow, Thursday 2 August, at Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent.

The work will be on site until 16 September as part of the final year of 14-18 NOW’s UK-wide tour of the poppies.

The presentations by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, give people across the UK the chance to experience the impact of the ceramic poppy sculptures in a range of places of particular First World War resonance. The sculptures have already been viewed by 4 million people to date. At the end of the tour they will become part of the Imperial War Museums’ collection.

Stoke-on-Trent is officially recognised as the World Capital of Ceramics, and Middleport Pottery has been operating since 1889. During the First World War demand for the ceramics goods made in the area greatly increased. These included tableware for hospitals, homes and the military; propaganda-ware, including small ceramic tanks and battleships; plates with patriotic designs or messages on them; and ceramics to mark both the early stages of the war and the Armistice at the end.

Weeping Window is from the installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London from August to November 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one for every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War. Together, the sculptures Wave and Weeping Window are made of over 11,000 poppies.

Stoke-on-Trent was integral to the original installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London in 2014. Stoke-on-Trent based company Potclays provided the clay that the ceramic poppies were created from, and advised the artist on technical aspects of the clay.  Johnson Tiles, who are also based in Stoke, were approached to assist and contracted to produce hundreds of thousands of the poppies.

Abi Brown, deputy leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council who is chair of the Poppies: Weeping Window steering panel said: “Poppies: Weeping Window represents one of the most significant cultural artworks in the UK and we are absolutely delighted for the sculpture to be here in Stoke-on-Trent. We know Weeping Window will be inspirational and aspirational for the city and want to make sure everyone enjoys the opportunity to see it. The process of securing the sculpture has been a true labour of love and we look forward to welcoming visitors to see what is an extremely special work of art in an extraordinary location.”

UKHBPT / Middleport Pottery director Clare Wood said: "Having Poppies: Weeping Window in Stoke-on-Trent is very fitting. It looks spectacular in the setting of Middleport Pottery and we are very proud to host the sculpture. This has been a very successful partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council, 14-18 NOW and ourselves, the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust. It has been very heartening to have the support of the community also with the superb event volunteers working alongside Middleport Pottery's fantastic volunteer team."

Jenny Waldman, director of 14-18 NOW, said: “The poppies have captivated millions of people across the UK, and we are delighted to present Weeping Window at Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent in this final year of the centenary. We are so grateful to artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper for these two enormously powerful artworks that continue to inspire all who see them.”

Weeping Window at Middleport Pottery is free to view, but tickets are required in advance. Tickets are now available to book at: www.weepingwindowstoke.eventbrite.com and at various Stoke-on-Trent locations.

People who register will receive an email confirming the order with their ticket attached. They will need to bring it along to the event, either on mobile device or printed.

As Middleport is located in a residential area, it is essential that visitors plan ahead for their visit, particularly for travel arrangements. More transport details are available on the ticket page. A car park is provided which is a 10-minute walk from Middleport Pottery. Further information about parking, coach arrivals and Blue Badge / accessible parking is available via the ticket page. A residential parking zone will be in operation in the streets surrounding Middleport Pottery. A shuttle bus will be provided from the event car park for those with mobility issues to get to the venue.

The tour has been made possible by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Backstage Trust, the Clore Duffield Foundation and the National Lottery. DAF Trucks are the transport sponsor for the UK presentations, and 14-18 NOW is delighted to partner with DAF on making this historic project a reality. The learning and engagement programme for the poppies tour is supported by the Foyle Foundation. Storage of the sculptures is generously provided by MTEC. 

Printed tickets can be arranged at the following council locations during normal opening hours:

  • Libraries across the city (Stoke, Longton, Bentilee, Tunstall, Meir and City Central)
  • Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
  • Local centres and customer service centres (13 locations including Abbey Houlton, Bentilee, Blurton, Burslem, Chell Heath, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Meir, Norton, Stoke, Tunstall)

Middleport Pottery

Middleport Pottery is owned and operated by United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT), a national charity that supports communities through the regeneration of their historic buildings. Formerly part of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, it became an independent charity in December 2016.  HRH The Prince of Wales is UKHBPT's founding patron.

Paul Cummins

Paul Cummins MBE is a ceramic artist, internationally renowned for the installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at HRP Tower of London 2014, as well as many other installations including his work on the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. Locations for previous works include the Houses of Parliament, Chatsworth House, Althorp Estate and Blenheim Palace. Paul was inspired to produce a ceramic poppy to honour every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War.

Tom Piper

Tom Piper MBE was Associate Designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2004 to 2014, and was closely involved in the redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. His theatre credits include over 30 productions for the RSC, including the award-winning History series. Other recent designs include Hamlet, King Lear (Citizens Theatre), Red Velvet (Tricycle Theatre and St Ann's Warehouse, Brooklyn), Tamburlaine (TFANA New York), Pride and Prejudice (Regent's Park Theatre), The King’s Speech (Birmingham Rep and Tour) and Zorro the Musical (West End and world tour). Piper's opera credits include Macbeth and Falstaff (Scottish Opera), Orfeo (ROH and Roundhouse). Tom collaborated with the British Museum and Alan Farlie Architects on the exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Tom is a Creative Associate at the Tricycle Theatre.

His many awards include an Olivier Award (costume design) for the Histories series.

14-18 NOW

14-18 NOW is a programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War, as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations. It commissions new work by leading contemporary artists across all art forms; the programme has included over 200 artists from 35 countries, taking place in 160 locations across the UK. Over 30 million people have experienced a project so far, including 7.5 million children and young people. 16.7 million people took part in LIGHTS OUT in 2014, and 63% of the population were aware of Jeremy Deller’s, ‘We’re here because we’re here’. The UK tour of the poppy sculptures by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper has been seen by over 4 million people to date. 14-18 NOW has won many awards for its work, including the National Lottery Heritage Award, 2017.  2018 is the final season, marking 100 years since the end of the First World War. 14-18 NOW is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, by the DCMS with additional funding from The Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Clore Duffield Foundation, NatWest and support from individuals.