By Lee Karen Stow
The poppy grows and survives where everything else has been destroyed.
The poppy grows tall when its seed, often dormant for years, is exposed to light due to great upheaval.
The poppy refuses to disappear, no matter how many times it is uprooted.
Exhibition opens Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, UK
8 November to December 31, 2014
Commemorating those who suffered has become a legacy of World War I. During the centenary years we also remember the famous war poem In Flanders Field, written by Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae in 1915. Largely forgotten is the moment in 1918 when, inspired by this poem, American woman Moina Belle Michael conceived of the poppy flower as a blood red symbol in silk to forever remember the victims of war.
Poppies (Women and War) remembers more women in times of war, from World War I to the present day. It combines a portrait series of women whose lives have been affected by war with a botanical series of the red poppy flower (Papaver rhoeas) in its natural environment. For the red poppy despite its delicate appearance, is able to generate new life when everything else has been destroyed, as is the orange poppy, the yellow poppy, the pink and the burgundy poppy, included here to represent women worldwide caught up in war. The white poppy too, while rare it flourishes if we look for it hard enough. In the 1930s this poppy was also immortalised in silk, by women, as a symbol of peace.