On Friday 10th November The Co-operative Academy of Stoke on Trent welcomed guests from the community; governors; staff and students to the unveiling of our very ambitious poppy installation created by students, staff and members of our local community. Radio Stoke, The Sentinel and Staffs Live all reported on the event. The idea to create a poppy installation came from our students who attended our extra-curricular art club. Students wanted to create a dramatic piece of artwork for Armistice Day.
The students quickly focused on the London installation in 2014, where many of the pottery poppies were made nearby in the Johnson Ceramic Factory in Tunstall. Following a discussion of the visual impact of The Wave and Weeping Window sculptures at the Tower of London in Autumn 2014, students set about designing ways that that it could be recreated here at the academy. The poppies are made from recycled materials. The plastic bottle idea came when students realised how many plastic bottles are used within the academy everyday. Mrs Turner Bradbury (Head of Art), Mrs Higgs (LRC Manager) and Miss Oakes White (Venture Community Leader) have all been involved in making the project happen. This involved leading after school clubs for students and trialing ways of displaying the poppies before finally deciding upon a successful and safe technique to use with the students.
After several different stages, the team attached the poppies to garden mesh and hung them from the roof of the academy. The larger plastic bottles have been used to emphasize the wave into the flower beds. Each bottle/poppy represents a soldier who lost their life during the war. The whole academy has been involved by collecting plastic bottles with volunteers and the art club cutting the bottles, painting the poppies and attaching them to the mesh. The site team have drilled the poppies, erected the structure and ensured the health and safety of the installation.
The poppy installation has become a great community project. Mrs Garrity (Director of Transition and Recruitment) approached our local community and engaged members of key community groups within our local area. Community groups that have been involved include Middleport Matters; Feral Spaces; Swan Bank Church with other members of the public taking part in painting the poppies. The news that the original Poppies from the Tower of London will be homed at Middleport Pottery in August 2018 will provide a wonderful setting for visitors to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice but also mean that we can work together to ensure as many members of our community witness the display.
The Co-operative Academy students, regardless of age, gender and ethnicity are aware of the importance of remembrance and paying their respects to others who have given their lives to make the world a safer place.