When acclaimed artist Jenna Fox saw Poppy the nation’s own war horse memorial draped in a cloak of knitted purple poppies, it planted the seed of an extraordinary idea which has just been realised…
Jenna says she drove SIX times round the Heatherwood Roundabout, in Ascot – home to our magnificent bronze monument – mesmerised by Poppy’s beauty and strength.
She explains: “I thought WOW, the purple was a light bolt. I had just completed a flower installation at The Sculpture Park in Guildford. My daughter was shouting at me, mum what are you doing, but I kept thinking I could make purple poppies that would sit under the horse and complement her amazing fortitude.”
She approached War Horse Memorial, and we were overwhelmed by the power of Jenna’s work. The result of the collaboration is a meadow of giant wooden purple poppies, lovingly made over many hours, positioned at the feet of our giant bronze and to be officially unveiled ahead of Remembrance Sunday to remember animals of war.
Jenna, who was born in Windsor, but now lives in Sunningdale, says her process is to draw each poppy so that each one is unique. “I wanted to show each life stage of the poppy. The green headed poppy, the vibrant, dynamic flowers that are so fluid, the leaves and the poppy head. These are drawn and cut out on wood then painted, over drawn and varnished and placed in layers as a 3d installation. They are tethered to the ground using flexible rods, so they slightly move.”
For us Jenna’s work is both powerful and enigmatic, and we believe the people of the Royal Borough, and our army of volunteers and supporters across the UK and beyond, will see the beauty and simplicity in this extraordinary installation.
Jenna admits she is scared of dogs and most things that move fast, yet as a child loved to sit on a horse and ride slowly. “I was never going to be a proper rider but sitting on such gentle creatures and feeling that connection was soothing as we took it one step at a time. Time is important as it is what Remembrance Day is all about. That pause, while we remember and reflect on the strength and courage of the men, women and animals that did so much for us all. It is now my absolute joy to be part of the War Horse Memorial and just for a short time be part of that remembrance. Each poppy created took around 15 hours. But during that creative process it gave me the chance to reflect. My poppies show the flower in all its life stages as I wanted to show how resilient we are and how much hope remains. The installation is simple… it’s a thank you.”