New Zealand artist Stephen Mulqueen uses discarded cartridge shells from the First and Second World Wars to construct brass poppies, transforming the refuse of war into symbolic and wearable objects. He is set to speak at the Guelph Civic Museum Friday, September 5th at 2 pm, about the significance of his poppies in a talk entitled, Poppies of War and Peace.
The brass poppies were inspired by Mulqueen’s travels to war sites in France, Belgium, and Germany in 2001. “I visited the Flanders Field Museum in Ypres and Tyne Cot Cemetery for the first time and found this very moving,” says Mulqueen. “Upon return to New Zealand in 2002, the impact of this journey began to infiltrate my workshop practice.”
His goal in creating the poppies was to commemorate the World Wars, and to provoke reflection on “the causes and consequences of war.” “I believe that we can engage memory by making things which offer a very tangible link to our own relationships with the past, with each other, and with the possibilities for the future,” says Mulqueen. He describes the brass poppy as “a residue of war where ‘beauty meets terror.'”
Guelph is the first stop on Mulqueen’s North American tour, which is supported by a Fullbright and New Zealand Arts grant.