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Council commissions ‘giant’ poppy-making project

Communities are being called on to help support an epic poppy-making project ahead of Remembrance Sunday, on 8 November.

Organisers of a participatory project called The Giant’s Garden are asking residents of all ages to stitch, knit, crochet, weave and assemble hundreds of super-sized poppies to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The project – one of the largest arts commissions Waltham Forest Council has awarded – is being led by Significant Seams, a social enterprise based in the borough. It runs over a period of two years, and will feature workshops in schools, at community events and at special sessions at the shop that Significant Seams runs in Wood Street, Walthamstow.

And as well as standing out for their size alone, the poppies being created can be purple, white and green, as well as the traditional red. The additional colours are intended to encourage conversations about how WWI affected important issues in our society: purple stands for changes in women’s roles; green for the acceptance of mental health and illness; and white for the increased ability for individuals to participate in political process – and the peace movement.

It is hoped that every poppy created will be displayed as part of a huge exhibition in time to commemorate the life of Leyton-born hero, Jack Cornwell, who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for bravery in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, where he died aged just 16.

Catherine West, Director of Significant Seams, said: “We’re aiming to raise awareness of the positive legacy of this tragic war both in terms of the progress made in equal rights for women and in our understanding of mental illness.

“Our spectacle will not simply be seen by the community, but its significance will be crafted by people from across our community, many of whom will be benefitting from the changes WWI brought to our society today.”

The project also highlights the importance of stitch-craft during the war effort, from the women knitting socks, mittens and scarves for loved ones on the Front, to the sewing up of soldiers’ wounds in the trenches.

Significant Seams hopes to see thousands of people take part in the project. Several free patterns will be made available so people can create and contribute their own giant poppy, even if they cannot attend one of more than 70 events the social enterprise will be organising. Materials can be purchased from their eBay shop and proceeds support Significant Seams’ work with vulnerable people.

Council Leader, Chris Robbins, told Waltham Forest News: “This project is inspiring in its scale, engaging thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life, and presenting opportunities to honour and reflect on the sacrifices made 100 years ago by heroic men, women and young people during the war.

“In Waltham Forest, we’re putting arts and culture at the heart of the work we’re doing now and in the future to bring our communities together in celebration and commemoration, and this project encapsulates that ideal.”

For more information visit Alternatively the Significant Seams shop can be found at 131 Wood Street, Walthamstow (E17 3LX).

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