Sunday, 18 January 2015


Last year's Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy display at the Tower of London was one of most poignant and significant events of the First World War centenary so far.

I was one of the lucky ones who received their ceramic poppy from the installation within a week of it being dismantled. Some are still waiting for their poppy to arrive. 

Since then I'd wanted to display it in an appropriate and symbolic way. So I decided to find a piece of Trench Art from the First World War. A shell case that would be perfect as a vase.

Of course now everyone is interested in the Great War, original artifacts are becoming harder and harder to find. But I had a stroke of luck when I discovered the perfect one in a shop in Leigh-on-Sea.
The brilliant little shop, MARINE MARINERS - Maritime Collectables, at 139 Leigh Road.

This shop is a fabulous treasure trove of naval and maritime antique items. And fortunately for me they had a bit of land-based history tucked away on the shelf!

Trench Art is a side product of the horror of the trenches. Many brass and metal items, found lying around, were shaped into decorative and imaginative designs and objects by soldiers either behind the lines in workshops or when at rest.

This particularly fine example is a French 75mm shell, from the famous French 75mm Field Gun. Made in 1916, it has gorgeous Art Nouveau style vine leaves, and an intricate dotted background. The floral theme I thought would compliment the poppy really well.

The French shell case makes the perfect vase!

This shows the beautifully crafted ceramic poppy, one of 888,246 made.

A closer look at the stunning intricacy of the work.

The markings at the bottom of the shell, clearly showing the 75 DEC, standing for 75mm Canon de Campagne.

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