The Poppy Project exceeds expectations

The Poppy Project, which began as a small personal tribute by two Australian women, has become an international phenomenon, showing respect for, and remembrance of those who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, their families and their communities.

Karen Hickman, Lorraine Wolfman and Allyson Alker.jpgThe Poppy Project, which began as a small personal tribute by two Australian women, has become an international phenomenon, showing respect for, and remembrance of those who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, their families and their communities.

An ambitious local poppy project, initiated and coordinated by Hawkesbury Regional Museum, Hawkesbury Library Services and Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, has reached its target four months ahead of schedule, with the momentum showing no signs of slowing down.

Hawkesbury residents have been invited to help make 2000 poppies for an installation to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War (1914-18).

Such is the enthusiasm and dedication of Hawkesbury crafters that, instead of 2000 poppies by Armistice Day on 11 November, it now looks as though 4000 poppies might be a more realistic number, according to Gallery Director, Kath von Witt.

“As the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War (1914-1918) draws to a close, it’s understandable that many people want to commemorate the event in this way,” Kath said.

“It’s a very practical, but very meaningful thing to do, and for many people it’s also a way of honouring the women who not only knitted socks but contributed to the war effort in so many ways.”

The knitted, felted and crocheted poppies are a symbol of remembrance and respect for those who have served in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, their families and their communities. There is even a purple poppy in remembrance of animals that served.

To help things along, Hawkesbury Central Library has been hosting craft days on the second Friday of the month since April (next dates are 10 August, 14 September and 12 October). The sessions run from 10am to midday, are free, and everyone is welcome. Tea and coffee provided. There is no need to book – just come along and bring your own needles or hooks and wool.

The installation will be undertaken by Gallery staff experienced in design and construction, and is expected to create a stunning effect in November at the Deerubbin Centre, 300 George Street, Windsor.

If you want to be involved but are unable to attend, you are welcome to make poppies at home. Patterns are available at Hawkesbury Central Library and Richmond Branch Library, as well as the Museum and the Gallery. You can also go online to find patterns or designs of your own choice – any size, any shade of red – the only requirement is that the finished product be a Flanders-style poppy. When completed, just drop them off at one of the above locations by Friday, 26 October. Donations of red or black 8-ply wool and small buttons would also be appreciated.

Why poppies?

The seeds of the Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) had lain dormant on the front lines of France until 1915 when they were disturbed by the soldiers fighting in World War I. Coincidentally, the weather offered perfect conditions for them to germinate. For the next four years, the poppies grew and their flowers lay like a red blanket across the fields on which the soldiers fought.

The Flanders poppy is now a poignant reminder of the fallen soldiers on both Armistice Day on 11 November (after the Second World War, Armistice Day became Remembrance Day) and on Anzac Day on 25 April in Australia. They are worn with pride, used in wreaths and sold to raise funds for charities that support returned solders.

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