Flowers of War: A Collaborative Commemorative Enamel Art Work


  • Creative NZ WW100 Co-Commissioning Fund
  • The Shrine of Remembrance
  • The Canterbury Museum
  • The Royal West of England Academy
  • RMIT University


Flowers of War applies multidisciplinary approaches in design to facilitate the remembrance and commemoration of World War I with contemporary audiences. The project strategy incorporates historical and community narratives to inspire the creation of individual wearable artefacts, based on leaf and flower forms associated with World War I. Through public exhibitions and participation in international contexts, visitors helped shape the individual artefacts to assemble into a large-scale steel and enamel wreath. This outcome, on display at the Victorian Shrine of Remembrance facilitates reflection and remembrance from a range of visitors including veterans, school children, local and international audiences.

Key Features


The design strategy demonstrates excellence through its contributions to the valuing and reimagining of commemorative processes in public space. The project provides audiences and stakeholders a participatory experience with excellent functional and aesthetic qualities. The project uses mobility strategies to allow the entire two metre wreath to be disassembled into small light-weight metal and enamel components, packed for travel, then reassembled for exhibition at international locations. A focus on user-experience is embedded throughout, from concept through to the final wreath, allowing engagement with multiple contemporary audiences in commemoration, and activating a continued and relevant legacy of World War I.


The project provides strong social impact through its development in exhibitions and events in Bristol, UK and Christchurch, NZ. Currently on permanent display at the Victorian Shrine of Remembrance the work engages with over a million visitors per annum with diverse groups from school visits to veterans. The project’s engagement with flowers and leaf forms activates the Shrine’s gardens providing new opportunities for reflection and commemoration. Flowers of War has evolved over four years in multiple locations with multiple stakeholders and exemplifies the thoughtful use of steel and enamel as well as the capacity to evolve contemporary narratives of remembrance and commemoration.


This project demonstrates design’s capacity to provide creative artefacts and systems which engage multiple audiences internationally in complex social discourse. Flowers of War provides a transformative focus for remembrance whilst allowing multiple audiences to participate and contribute to new understandings of the legacy of World War I. The project combines art and design to create a world-class benchmark for contemporary story-telling and memory. Through its contemplative experience the project encourages repeat visits and moments of encounter by audiences. The project is activated through research-driven creative practice to provide unique opportunities for contemporary reflection and meaning-making.


Flowers of War innovated international public commemorative artefacts and processes. The strategy of audience engagement through co-design allowed multiple audiences, and diverse ‘voices’, to engage with and contribute to the project. Paper wreath-making events supported new ideas, concepts and stories. These fed back into the project development. Exhibiting work-in-progress in this manner disrupts established museum and gallery practice thereby expanding and activating host institutions into a dialogic space of remembrance and commemoration. Multiple understandings and emotional engagements with remembrance became enmeshed as the project grew; from 120 pieces when first exhibited in Christchurch, to 480 pieces in Melbourne.


A collaboration between gold and silversmith Kirsten Haydon, designer Neal Haslem and enamel artist Elizabeth Turrell.

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