Peterborough poppy art installation to remember men who gave their lives at Battle of the Somme

Peterborough artist Charron Pugsley-Hill with Queensgate's Mark Broadhead
Peterborough artist Charron Pugsley-Hill with Queensgate's Mark Broadhead

A new art installation to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme in World War I will be unveiled in Peterborough this summer.

Queensgate Shopping Centre has commissioned Peterborough-based Internationally working artist, Charron Pugsley-Hill to create an art installation, entitled the Queensgate Sky of Poppies.

The Queensgate Sky of Poppies will be unveiled in the shopping centre on Friday 24 June – a week before the battle began on 1 July.

Over 1,000 handmade felted poppies, each representing 1,000 men from all sides that gave their life at the Battle of Somme, the bloodiest battle in history, will hang from the ceiling of Queensgate and cascade to the floor in North Square (outside John Lewis).

“The poppies are the souls of those who died reaching from heaven to connect and touch the souls of those looking and watching below,” says artist, Charron Pugsley-Hill.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been asked by Queensgate Shopping Centre to create ‘The Sky of Poppies’ to commemorate the Battle of the Somme in 1916. I have, since 2014, been creating a series of work commemorating the people, events and places of WWI a hundred years on and this is my largest and I believe will be the most emotional yet.”

In Peterborough, 131 men died at The Somme, which is a large number considering that Peterborough was a market town at the time and not the city that it is today.

Charron will be working with artisan felter, Eve Marshall who will be teaching local community workshops to create the 1,000 poppies needed. Schools, groups, and the community are encouraged to get in touch with Charron to make their contribution to the Sky of Poppies.

Mark Broadhead, Centre Director at Queensgate Shopping Centre has made his poppy to be added to the installation, he said: “This is a wonderful piece of art that has a deep meaning in Peterborough and will celebrate the lives of those that fought bravely in the Battle of Somme. The final installation will be a stunning and emotive spectacle that can be enjoyed by all.”

The Queensgate Sky of Poppies will attract attention from across the world as artists and individuals are invited to make their own poppies to be included in the installation.

Poppy kits are available from www.evemarshall.co.uk with all profits going to The Royal British Legion.

“It is incredibly exciting that this project is reaching other parts of the world and we want this to be very much a community piece for the people of Peterborough, therefore I’m encouraging community groups, businesses, schools and individuals to get in touch with me directly to arrange for when and where their poppy can be made,” Charron adds.

FREE workshops will be taking place in a temporary art centre in Westgate Arcade on: Sunday 17th April: 11am, midday, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm, Friday 22nd April: 10am, 11am midday, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.