Breathtaking Weeping Window artwork opens at the Ulster Museum

The ceramic poppy sculpture by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper has already captivated millions of people around the UK

The iconic poppy sculpture 'Weeping Window' by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper will open on Saturday, October 14, at the Ulster Museum, Belfast. The poppies will be on site until December 3 as part of the UK-wide tour organised by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary. The poppies are presented by National Museums NI and Belfast International Arts Festival to give people from Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland the opportunity to see the sculpture.

The Ulster Museum is one of the most iconic buildings in Belfast and houses Northern Ireland’s national collections of art, history and natural science. In 2014, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the museum opened a new, permanent ‘Modern History’ gallery. The gallery has the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ period, from 1912-22, at its heart, in recognition of the significance of this period in shaping the future, outlook and multiple identities of Northern Ireland.

'Weeping Window' is one of two sculptures taken from the installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London in 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one for every life lost at the Front during the First World War. The installation was by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces.

121017dk3079_1

The presentations by 14-18 NOW give people across the UK the chance to experience the impact of the ceramic poppy sculptures in a range of places and have been seen by over three million people to date.

Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums NI, said: 'This spectacular piece of art will be a great draw for visitors to the Ulster Museum and, as well as being deeply moving, it links beautifully to the collections in our new permanent Modern History gallery which explores the First World War and its aftermath through social, cultural, political and military history.
 
'The installation of 'Weeping Window' not only allows visitors to see a wonderful sculpture but will also enable them to explore perspectives on our shared history during this pivotal period. We also hope that they will take the opportunity to engage in dialogue around the themes of identity and symbolism through the Ulster Museum’s collections and our extensive public programme Participate in Poppies, which will include a series of talks, workshops, performances, tours and film screenings.

'Anticipation of local audiences to see this work following its successful tour has been high and we are thrilled to see it housed in the Ulster Museum, one of Belfast’s most celebrated shared spaces. We believe this will attract thousands of visitors from across the island of Ireland in the coming weeks.'

121017dk3142_1

Richard Wakely, Director of the Belfast International Arts Festival, said: 'Poppies are for many, particularly in Ireland, a potent if not controversial symbol. Artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper’s ceramic sculpture 'Weeping Window' at the Ulster Museum, is a reflection on the huge loss of life from conflict and warfare during the First World War, rather than a glorification of war. For the Festival, it is an opportunity to continue our public discourse on cultural identity and diversity across the island of Ireland, which is why this year we have a special programme to support 'Weeping Window' called Contested Legacies. We hope that communities across the island will choose to engage with this artwork and join us to discuss its impact and meaning.'

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: 'We are delighted to work with Ulster Museum and the Belfast International Arts Festival to bring the poppies to Northern Ireland for the first time. The poppies have captivated millions of people across the UK, and I am so grateful to artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper for these two enormously powerful artworks that continue to inspire all who see them.'

'Wave' and 'Weeping Window' are the two poppy sculptures being presented across the UK, together totaling more than 10,000 poppies saved for the nation by the Backstage Trust and the Clore Duffield Foundation. Financial support for the presentations has been received from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and fundraising for the presentations is ongoing.

121017dk3120_1

Credit: Darren Kidd & Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye

DAF Trucks are the transport sponsor for the UK presentations, and 14-18 NOW are 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.

A large volunteer team – the Poppies Ambassadors – were recruited to help deliver a world class visitor experience to everyone who visits the 'Weeping Window' sculpture during its time in Belfast – and to help with associated events.

Whilst the sculpture is in Belfast an extensive public programme entitled ‘Participate in Poppies’ will take place at the Ulster Museum, including a series of talks, workshops, performances, tours and film screenings. As part of this varied programme, connections to the sculpture and the relevance of symbolism will be explored through National Museums NI’s wider collections.  A number of these special events will be delivered during the Belfast International Arts Festival, through the ‘Contested Legacies’ programme. 

For further details of the ‘Participate in Poppies’ programme visit www.nmni.com.