Artist Gillian Taylor's towering paper poppies pay tribute to war letters at Exeter theatre

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 November 2012
  • Archived article
A photo of spirals of yellow paper in the shape of poppies with writing on them
Paper Poppies in Exeter© Gillian Taylor
When paper artist Gillian Taylor decided to make a work based on the ways we communicate, she took to the local paper to appeal for love letters from World War II.

A photo of hundreds of luminous paper poppies hanging in the air against a grey backdrop
© Gillian Taylor
The response – procuring messages of love and longing, interspersed with details of training and wartime life – have been copied and turned into 1,000 paper poppies, standing almost three metres high at the entrance to Exeter’s Northcott Theatre.

“The letters were all written at a time of great uncertainty and heightened emotions,” explains Taylor, who has also framed poppies onto Japanese papers, tiny envelopes and miniature postcard bundles.

“Sometimes people didn’t know when they were going to see their loved one again, and the letters really show that.

“The handwriting is beautiful, and so is the content. I hope that this piece of art will encourage people to think about what that might have been like – the excitement and the fear.”

The installation has been inspired by a dispatch written by an aircraft engineer in Southampton. His correspondent later became his wife.