28 October 2020

A poppy field in the palm of your hand

| Alex Rea
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Limited edition glass field of poppies piece.

A limited edition glass Field of Poppies piece by Kirstie Rea to commemorate Remembrance Day. Photo: Supplied.

As Remembrance Day approaches, our thoughts turn to those in the armed forces who have sacrificed their lives in wars.

To commemorate Remembrance Day 2020, Canberra-based glassmaker Kirstie Rea has been commissioned by Canberra Glassworks to make limited edition artworks available. The Field of Poppies series of glass artworks will be available exclusively from Canberra Glassworks.

Kirstie Rea at Canberra Glassworks.

Glassmaker Kirstie Rea at Canberra Glassworks. Photo: Supplied.

Kirstie, the winner of the 2019 Klaus Moje Glass Award, is also DESIGN Canberra’s 2020 designer-in-residence. When she was approached by Canberra Glassworks to create an object of remembrance, she began a personal and creative journey that resulted in the unique commission of Field of Poppies.

The poppy has been used since 1921 to commemorate Australian soldiers who died in war, particularly on Remembrance Day, on 11 November, and Anzac Day, on 25 April. The red poppies that bloom in the battlefields of northern France and Belgium came to symbolise the blood of the fallen and inspired John McCrae to write the war poem, In Flanders Fields, in 1915.

Each of the Field of Poppies artworks is made from layers of glass containing specks of red glass scattered throughout to symbolise both tombstones and poppies. At the base of the handheld piece is a small section which can be hand engraved with a personalised message of remembrance. For example, the name of a loved one or an important date.

Kirstie was inspired by her childhood memories of watching televised images of families visiting cemeteries full of white marble tombstones, where their fathers and grandfathers bravely fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front in World War I.

Each Field of Poppies work is individually created and numbered and comes with a personally signed card wrapped in a small section of a grey blanket from 1942, during the time of World War II, and nestled in a presentation box.

“I found an old blanket in my studio with the original tag still on it and realised it was from the 1940s,” says Kirstie. “I thought it would add an authentic touch to the artwork so I cut it into small sections and every piece comes with its own piece of history.”

Kirstie has previously used the folded glass blanket form in her glass practice as a symbol of comfort and care.

Flanders red poppy.

Flanders red poppy. Photo: Alex Rea.

“It is really important to keep your memories close to you and with this object you can hold it in the palm of your hand, have a sense of touch and hold it close to your heart,” she says. “The glass responds to your body heat and its weight enables you to hold it close to you, as with all heartfelt memories.”

The Canberra-born artist holds this project very dear as its inspiration came from the memories of her grandfather’s experience during World War I.

Field of Poppies piece being engraved.

A Field of Poppies piece being engraved. Photo: Supplied.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Kirstie on her Field of Poppies artworks,” says Julie Skate, CEO of Canberra Glassworks. “It provides the opportunity for people to own a unique and exquisite glass artwork to remember someone close to their heart.”

The limited edition Field of Poppies artworks have a RRP of $240 and can be pre-ordered by visiting Canberra Glassworks.

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