Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Report highlights Weeping Window benefit for Orkney

Report highlights Weeping Window benefit for Orkney
17 March 2017

Around 9,000 people visited Kirkwall last year specifically to see the Weeping Window display at St Magnus Cathedral, according to a recent report.

‘Creating a Visual Memory – Audience Evaluation of the 2016 Poppies Tour’ was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.

During the time the sculpture was in Orkney, there were a total of 43,446 visits to the cathedral at an average of 7,241 visits a week. 

The final nine days alone attracted 14,404 visits.

The report estimates that the poppies generated around £2m additional spend for the Orkney economy.

A selection of visitors to the poppies were asked to complete a survey on their experience – a third of those questioned said that they were very likely to explore further the history of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance, while around a fifth were very interested in learning about the loss of life and about the war in general.  The report shows that 39% of those who visited had a much better understanding of the loss of life, higher than those surveyed in Lincoln (26%) and in Perth (27%).

The installation also helped visitors to understand more about Orkney’s role in the war effort, with interpretation boards, leaflets and volunteers all assisting in this.  One visitor commented: “with Orkney you think of it as one of the islands off Scotland, this actually brings home to you its significance during that time period”.

An image of the Weeping Window installation at St Magnus Cathedral

The report also concludes that visitors were motivated by both the historical and artistic elements of the work. Nearly a third visited to commemorate and learn more about the First World War, whilst over half of those who visited did so because they considered it a major exhibition happening in the county. 

Antony Mottershead is the Council’s Arts Officer.  He said: “Almost a year on from the poppies arriving in Orkney this report reminds us of that very important period when we came together to remember and the huge impact the poppies had on people, both within our own community and visitors to the county. The additional spend generated by the poppies is also very substantial, the report clearly demonstrates just how powerful cultural experiences can be as an economic driver.”

Poppies: Weeping Window was on display at the Cathedral from 22 April to 12 June 2016 to commemorate one hundred years since the Battle of Jutland. Poppies: Weeping Window is from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – poppies and original concept by artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper – by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited in conjunction with Historic Royal Palaces.

The installation was originally at HM Tower of London in 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War.

Weeping Window is the cascade of poppies that was seen pouring out of a high window down to the grass below. In Orkney, the poppies cascaded from the western end of the Cathedral.