The Tower Remembers

Beyond the Deepening Shadow 

Back in the moat of the Tower of London and faced with the challenge from Deborah Shaw of how to mark the end of the centenary year of the end of the first world war. I have been on an extraordinary journey with Paul Cummins and 14-18 Now with the tour of the two poppy sculptures, but this had to be very different while at the same time acknowledging it would be impossible to escape comparison with the power and popularity of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red in 2014.

I wanted to create something more transient and performative. I loved the way that the poppies planters turned the moat into their stage and  so I wanted to involve volunteers again as I felt so much of the power of the Poppies and been in how individuals took the project to their hearts and made it their own. The idea of using flames was partly inspired by my installation ‘Dr Blighty’ where we used clay divas created by Brighton school children to commemorate the 1000’s of indian soldiers who were sent to the Pavilion to recuperate in 1914. But also as an answering call to the darkness of the First World War by bringing the light of peace and hope. For me the flames work in two ways; as both a gesture of remembrance, lighting a candle of memory, but also as symbol of hope for a fragile peace.

I have been lucky, as in all performance work, to collaborate  with a great group of  other creative artists: Composition and sound design from Mira Calix gradually fills the moat with multi locational ethereal sound with words from the Mary Borden poem which inspired our title. Phil Supple, who also worked on the poppies, has lit the moat so sensitively to capture the movement and shadows of all the volunteer lighters while allowing large looming shadows of the Yeoman Warders without distracting from the flickering beauty of the flames. Anna Morrissey has worked tirelessly with all the volunteers and Mike jones has been amazingly patient in sourcing all our candles and other pyrotechnic needs.

In the end the design has become very simple, I explored shapes that were more direct echoes of the poppy design, but have created an encircling aurora of flame that slowly extends down tendrils . The lighting process is very much part of the artwork and the sight of 80 volunteer lighters processing into the installation and starting to light in a slow steady rhythm was very moving. From one single flame the installation grows to fill the entire moat.

The tower Remembers , installation designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Phil Supple, Flames by Mike Jones. Composer Mira calix, Movement Anna Morrissey


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