IN PICTURES: Thousands of poppies ‘spill’ from Ulster Museum

A striking outdoor sculpture featuring 6,000 poppies marks the first time a major exhibit has been on display outside the Ulster Museum.

The Weeping Window began life as an installation at the Tower of London in 2014 and the current display represents its 13th stop on a UK tour.

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.

Photo by Darren Kidd  / Press Eye

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. Photo by Darren Kidd / Press Eye

The poppies – displayed according to the architecture of each site – can be seen cascading from the Ulster Museum until December 3. In the evenings the display will be lit up.

Artist Paul Cummins explained how the colour of paint used for the poppies in the installation is particularly unique.

The Chesterfield man said: “The poppies were made by a team of 369 people over nine months.

“They are all sprayed, not glazed. I wanted the consistency in colour and with red it’s not easy in ceramics to get that.

The iconic poppy sculpture Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.

Photo by Darren Kidd  / Press Eye

The iconic poppy sculpture Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Photo by Darren Kidd / Press Eye

“It’s a cadmium red which is now banned by the EU because there’s a substance in it they’re not happy with.

“It came out in November and was banned in December. It’s the last time you’ll ever see this colour so it’s quite poignant.”

The red flower, which has come to represent the sacrifices made during WWI, has also been used as a divisive symbol by some.

Head of Art at National Museums NI, Kim Mawhinney, said: “National Museums NI and the Ulster Museum has never shied away with looking at our recent past and the issues that it’s brought up.

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.

Photo by Darren Kidd  / Press Eye

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. Photo by Darren Kidd / Press Eye

“In recent years we’ve had the exhibition ‘Art of the Troubles’ and also ‘Silent Testimony’ that looked at the aftermath of the Troubles.

“Likewise with the poppies being here we have developed a ‘Participate in Poppies’ programme where we want the public to get involved in the talks, lectures and seminars and to be part of that debate about the use of the poppy and other symbols.”

To find out what’s on in the Ulster Museum go to https://www.nmni.com/our-museums/ulster-museum/Home.aspx

Richard Wakely, Director of the Belfast International Arts Festival, said: “This year’s festival has two very strong themes which are memory and history and we’re reflecting on freedoms gained, freedoms lost and freedoms yet to be won. Within that context this very beautiful ceramic sculpture really makes a very vital contribution to our programme and allows us to ask some very challenging questions about society here.”

Artist Paul Cummins, Designer Tom Piper and Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums NI.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes  / Press Eye

Artist Paul Cummins, Designer Tom Piper and Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums NI. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

For a full list of the festival’s event see belfastinternationalartsfestival.com

Nigel Hinds, executive producer of 14-18 NOW, who are organising the tour, said it takes around three or four days to install the sculpture at each site.

He said each poppy is made up of a metal stem and six ceramic petals which are packed away between each location.

The iconic poppy sculpture Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.

Photo by Darren Kidd  / Press Eye

The iconic poppy sculpture Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Photo by Darren Kidd / Press Eye

The Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper at the Ulster Museum.

Photo by Darren Kidd  / Press Eye

The Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper at the Ulster Museum. Photo by Darren Kidd / Press Eye