Since the spring of 1915, when red poppies first bloomed on the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium, the poppy has long been valued as a symbol of the great loss suffered at the hands of war, and as a symbol of hope for those left behind.
Between 2014 and 2018 Australia is commemorating the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. Phillip Johnson Landscapes has been privileged to work alongside Lynn Berry and the 5000 Poppies Project to create a number of beautiful tribute displays that focus on remembrance, respect and reflection.
The 5000 Poppies Project run by fibre artists, Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight, has in excess of 30,000 volunteers and contributors from around the nation and across the word – the youngest being only 2 years old and the oldest contributor being 106. For the past two years, they have been creating handcrafted poppies in order to pay tribute to our servicemen and women. Initially aiming for just 5,000 poppies, their project gained so much admiration that they now have over 250,000 poppies!
For the 2015 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show, Chelsea Best In Show Winner, Phillip Johnson, created a tribute garden in honour of his great grandfather, Lieutenant Frederick Johnson of the XXII Corps. The countless letters Frederick wrote and sent home to his family – that he would never see again – inspired this moving display. The garden featured the original 5,000 poppies from the 5000 Poppies Project, which spilled into the landscape through Australian native trees and showed how the devastation of war touches all of us in one way or another.
Many visitors to the community tribute garden were incredibly moved by its message and shared their own memories of loved ones who had fought in WWI and WWII as well as more recent conflicts.
For Anzac Day 2015, Phillip Johnson Landscapes and the 5000 Poppies Project have come together again to create a field of poppies at Federation Square and on Princes Bridge. The total 250,000 handmade poppies spilled down into the forecourt of the popular Melbourne Piazza in a vibrant visual tribute to our servicemen and women on Friday 24th April and were revealed at Princes Bridge on the day itself.
Each poppy in the display is special and unique and when viewed singularly, is one expression of personal reflection and remembrance. But when viewed in the vast field of red, the scale of the installation will reflect the magnitude of this important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration to our servicemen and women and their families.