Blood From The Poppy

An art installation commemorating the fallen of WW1

by Artist Nabil Ali
29th July – 1st September 2014
Chelmsford Museums

Nabil Ali poster

The common poppy – Papaver rhoeas.L, a well known survivor that emerges on the ridges  of our fields, was one of the plants mentioned in the LDA (Liber diversarum arcium) [1] a 14th century art manuscript outlining art discipline with insightful knowledge into medieval workshops. This research led me to explore the innovative techniques and methods used
from that period to create a full bodied red ink, with elements tracing back to the 3rd Century AD [2].

The extracted juice from the plant when freshly made into a drawing ink is a rich crimson colour, and has been associated with death over the last 8000 years [3]. It is one of the most recognizable plants from around the world and is still associated with the memory of the Dead and found in many cultures around the world. Its small delicate petals resembling the colour of blood, are prominently visible across our landscapes, notably reminding us on how short life is.

This exhibition commemorates people across the world who were affected by the destructive force of WW1 that changed the world we live in. The painting will depict an abstract view of the poppy plant commemorating the dead with the symbolic meaning to society, accompanied with poppy ink made from old technology in a new way.  This is an introduction to ongoing research exploring ways in making colourants from Nature working with organic paint systems to create art.

More info from Nabil

[1] Original Latin text translated by Prof. Mark Clarke from New University of Lisbon.
[2] Leiden papyrus V.
[3] Saunders, N (2013) The Poppy: A Cultural History from Ancient Egypt to Flanders Fields to Afghanistan.
Oneworld Publication.