I like art to be accessible. I like there to be a layer that is understandable without having to read an essay-length label, with as many deeper layers as may be for the onlooker to discover gradually.
There can be no more accessible art installation than Paul Cummins’ Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, 888,246 ceramic poppies currently being installed, in a setting by stage designer Tom Piper, in the moat of the Tower of London: http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/about-the-installation.
Each poppy represents a British serviceman killed in the Great War. The total of 888,246 poppies – and lives lost – will be accomplished in time for Remembrance Day 2014.
It’s impossible to stand in front of this growing array and not be conscious of the sheer human cost, and waste, of the great conflict a hundred years ago.
I can’t think of a more powerful way of recognising the reality of the number 888,246 – the population of Greater Liverpool (864,122)? 3½ times the current complement of the British Army plus reserves (865,305)? Wembley Stadium filled nearly ten times over (900,000)? No mathematical comparison can make the impact of the spread of red across the green moat of Britain’s oldest fortress.