Over 5,000 poppies were scattered under the dome of St Pauls
in an art installation on Remembrance Day, Friday 11th November 2011. From ground level the poppies appear to have fallen randomly, but when viewed from the Whispering Gallery the poppies form an image of three child soldiers; one from the First World War and two from more recent conflicts.
The 30 foot wide installation created by artist Ted Harrison highlights the involvement of children in war. Although declared illegal by the UN some 250,000 under-age children are currently active combatants - most having been forced or coerced into volunteering. Thousands are killed, wounded or traumatised every year.
The installation is part of the St Pauls Cathedral Arts Project, an ongoing programme which seeks to explore the encounter between art and faith. Recent projects have included installations by Antony Gormley, Mark Alexander and Martin Firrell.
Artist Ted Harrison said; "The poppy is now a universal symbol of remembrance. At the time of year when we rightly recall British soldiers, sailors and airmen who have given their lives for their country, this work is a reminder of the many children who have also, throughout history, died as members of the armed forces. Today a UN convention forbids the conscription of anyone under 18 years of age, but the convention is widely ignored. It is estimated there are 250,000 children worldwide in military service, a third of whom are girls. When the work is viewed from above I hope something of the innocence of these children is conveyed along with a sense of innocence betrayed."
The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley, Treasurer of St Paul's, said; "In Ted Harrisons moving tribute the past and present are brought together in a poignant way through Remembrance poppies, scattered to shock us and warn us that history repeats itself. The human faces can only be fully seen from a sacred height. Placed in the cathedral this tribute reminds us of the tragedy of violent conflict. It is a wake-up call to us all to protest against the wickedness of arming children to fight, and die, in our wars. It is also a timely reminder that human beings should remember better - not to be comforted but to be challenged