Following Remembrance Day, one of Victoria’s ANZAC Centenary’s largest initiatives is touring Gippsland, the 5000 Poppies Project.
Artists Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight began the 5000 Poppies initiative for Remembrance Day in 2013, crocheting 120 poppies to plant at the Shine of Remembrance.
Berry and Knight’s project resonated with Victorians prompting 50,000 volunteers to knit, sew or felt their own contribution, paying tribute to the Australian servicemen and women who died in the war.
Currently, the hand crafted display is hung at the Warragul Public Library.
“There has been great public response to the display. We have had a tour group from the Tralagon Art Galley come through and one of the members was quite taken with the display”, Baw Baw Principal librarian Kathie Olden said.
According to Ms Olden, the project came to the Warragul Library’s attention, by resident Jean Hawking who had an association with the RSL.
Jean Hawking has since passed away but her support of the initiative has inspired residents to contribute over 20 kilos of knitted poppies which have been added to the display.
“We had a poppy making event where 20 kilograms of poppies were produced by knitters and makers at our library, which was sent off to the 5000 poppies project”, Ms Olden said.
Some Gippsland residents have knitted a deeply personal connection with the knitted display.
“The 5000 poppies project encouraged people to put a little dedication on the poppies they created, if they had family members of friends who died in the war”, Library Officer for Programs Liz Campbell said.
“There is the odd poppy that has a name sown in the back of them.”
Minister for Veterans, John Eren, believes the arrival of the 5000 Poppies Project in Gippsland is an incredible opportunity for the region.
“The 5000 Poppies Project is a stunning tribute to our servicemen and women”, Mr Eren said.
“This is a great opportunity for the Gippsland community to see for themselves a project that’s captured Victoria’s heart.”
Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, echoes a similar sentiment.
“This is our chance to pay tribute to the members of our community to the members of the community who gave the ultimate sacrifice”, Ms Shing said.
“Gippsland has a proud history of serving Australia during World Wars I and II and the many conflicts involving our nation since.”
At the end of last year, 200,000 poppies had been made to honour Australia’s wartime contribution.
As of now, 250,000 poppies have been placed at Federation Square.
“By commemorating our wartime history, we’re ensuring the legacy of our veterans is preserved for future generations to cherish”, MP John Eren said.
“The 5000 Poppies Project will be on show at various locations across the region and I encourage everyone to get along and see for themselves this stunning tribute”, MP Harriet Shing said.
Library Officer for Programs Liz Campbell believes there is no way to determine whether the poppies knitted by Gippsland residents made the display but it is a likely outcome.
“We have no real way of knowing that these individual poppies are the ones that our patrons did, of course, because we went them off when they were made.”
“We donated enough that there is probably a pretty good chance that there are at least some of them are on display.”
Throughout this month, the 5000 Poppies project will tour across Gippsland before the captivating display reaches the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.