Where have all the Gallipoli poppies gone?

Gallipoli: The scale of our war marked its first anniversary this week, on Monday 18th April. The phenomenal numbers visiting the exhibition have left an enormous number of poppies in the shell crater occupied by Cecil Malthus.

Sergeant Cecil Malthus in Gallipoli. The scale of our war. Te Papa

Sergeant Cecil Malthus in Gallipoli. The scale of our war. Te Papa

Skimming the poppies from this ‘pool’ – to stop them from spilling into the gallery and causing a tidal surge into Wellington foyer – has been a regular job for the exhibition maintenance team.

Over the last twelve months, we have been carefully saving the poppies. But the first anniversary of the exhibition’s opening seemed like a special moment for us to completely empty the crater and start afresh.

No poppies only mud in Cecil Mathus's shell crater in Gallipoli. The scale of our War. Photo by Kirstie Ross

No poppies only mud in Cecil Mathus’s shell crater in Gallipoli. The scale of our War. Photo by Kirstie Ross

Above is my snapshot of the bottom of the crater, revealed after three of us spent an hour on Monday morning scooping out poppies. You can actually see the Western Front mud again.

That evening, I checked the exhibition, and already poppies were accumulating (below). I picked out one poppy out at random and read:

I’m glad grandad returnd home‘.

End of the day 18 April 2016. Poppies in bottom of Cecil Malthus's shell crater. Gallipoli. The scale of our war. Photo by Kirstie Ross

End of the day 18 April 2016. Poppies in bottom of Cecil Malthus’s shell crater. Gallipoli. The scale of our war. Photo by Kirstie Ross

We will now reflect on a year’s worth poppies, and sample, read and share your messages contained in this archive of thoughts and emotions prompted by the exhibition.

And the 100th anniversary of the first Anzac Day commemorations, this coming Monday, is when you can come to Te Papa add your poppy and your thoughts and reflections to exhibition. You can also read other messages in an earlier blog or you can leave your own online.

If you have already visited Gallipoli: The scale of our war or want to find out more about the Great War and it’s impact on New Zealanders, come to Te Papa from Friday 22nd to Monday 25th April, to experience live RNZ broadcasts, film screenings, curator talks and book signings.

Poppies kindly supplied by Ricoh.

Kirstie Ross
Curator Modern New Zealand

Gallipoli: The scale of our war exhibition

2 Responses

  1. Kirstie Ross

    Kia ora Kura
    Thanks you for your comment. It was such an honour to be able to represent and tell the stories of the eight individuals in the exhibition including your Great Grandfather Rikihana. It seems like such a long time since the opening: but having descendants like yourself and your grandmother and her sisters made that event definitely made it incredibly memorable and special.

    Kirstie Ross, History Curator

    Reply
  2. Kura

    Thank you for the exhibition. My Great Grandfather is featured in this exhibition he is Rikihana Carkeek from the māori contingent from Otaki. My whānau and I where honored to have been able to attend the opening of Gillipoli: Scale of our war last year and, it truly ment a lot to my Grandmother and her three sisters. Thank you Te Papa.

    Reply

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