On hand to help Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick with the public launch of the artworks was Army veteran Donald McLeod and Private Lynsey McNeill, who serves with 52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (6 SCOTS).
The Scottish Parliament event comes as Poppyscotland’s preparations for the Scottish Poppy Appeal are reaching peak activity. Each year, around five million poppies and more than 10,000 wreaths are hand-assembled and then distributed by volunteers across Scotland who ensure they are available to the public in November.
The Presiding Officer, Rt. Hon Tricia Marwick MSP said:
“Poppyscotland is the only charity that the Scottish Parliament supports.
“In this centenary year of the ‘war to end all wars’, we remember the millions who died between 1914-18. These artworks remind us of the peace yet to be achieved.
“I am sure that MSPs and visitors to Holyrood will pause and reflect on the devastating impact of wars past and present.”
Ian McGregor, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, said:
“The First World War inspired and continues to inspire great works of art and, as we approach Remembrance time, these striking installations give us a timely opportunity to remember the Fallen. Importantly, they also remind us of the impact of war on members of the Armed Forces community today and the need to continue to support them through the Scottish Poppy Appeal.”
Private Lynsey McNeill, who is featuring in Poppyscotland’s 2014 campaign, said:
“I am delighted to be one of the first people to see the sculptures on display. It is important to remember and, as a serving soldier, it is reassuring to know that organisations like Poppyscotland are there for those who have served. I hope the public will visit to see these stunning pieces of art.”
France 1914, created by Edinburgh based artist Simon Burns-Cox, is a stunning 6-feet-tall Italian marble sculpture. The sculpture represents the last tree remaining on a First World War battlefield, representing a symbol of hope and survival.
The installation will be on display at the Scottish Parliament until 4 December 2014. It will then go on a tour of the country for the next four years before being auctioned or sold to raise funds for Poppyscotland.
Unknown by Midlothian based artist Alison Kinnaird MBE features and army of glass figures, mainly soldiers, lit with LED lighting to illuminate the engraving. According to the artist, the inclusion of civilian figures highlights the impact of war on all of us. Each figure is an individual but they represent a universal soldier - each one is someone’s son, brother, father or friend. The piece remembers and honours those who have fallen in the past and who continue to fight.
It will be on display in the Main Hall until Saturday 1 November 2014. It will then go on tour to museums and National Trust for Scotland properties.
Simon Burns-Cox said:
“Over the years, I have donated pieces of my work to charity. I wanted to help Poppyscotland mark the centenary of the First World War by donating France 1914 in order to raise funds for veterans. I hope that people who see the piece will remember those who have given their lives for this country.”
Alison Kinnaird said:
"Glass seems the perfect medium in which to represent the fragility of life in war. We never seem to learn."
The two pieces of art will be on display in the Main Hall of the Scottish Parliament. Entry is free.
Poppyscotland is the leading charity supporting members of the Armed Forces community in Scotland and is the only charity officially recognised by the Scottish Parliament.
Poppyscotland organises the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal in November, which raised £2.64 million in 2013. Income from the Appeal and year-round fundraising activity enables the charity to provide tailored support and assistance for those who have served, those still serving and their families. Poppyscotland also funds services in advice, employment, housing, mental health, mobility and respite.