Papaver Rhoeas

Currently Exhibiting: Armistice: Legacy of the Great War, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, 20 October 2018 – 6 January 2019

Papaver Rhoeas created by Paddy Hartley in collaboration with:
Dr. Ian Thompson, Medical Device Innovation, Dental Institute, King's College London
Mr William Edwards, Curator of the Gordon Museum of Pathology, King's College London
Professor Malcolm Logan, Randall Division of Cell & Molecular Biophysics, King's College London  

previous exhibiting venues:

  • Edits 01: Paddy Hartley at The Lowry, Salford.

  • Saatchi Gallery, London

  • The Gordon Museum of Pathology, King's College London

  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London

  • Firepower. Royal Artillery Museum, London

  • Sir John Soane's Museum, London

  • The Crypt, Museum of the Order of St John, London

  • The Foundling Museum, London

  • Florence Nightingale Museum, London

  • Freud Museum, London

  • Alexander Fleming Museum, London


Papaver Rhoeas by Paddy Hartley.

Assembled Field Poppy specimens fabricated from lambs heart tissue in replica glass artillery shell cases. 2015



Papaver Rhoeas by Paddy Hartley. Currently on display in ‘Armistice: Legacy of the Great War’ , Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, 20 October 2018 – 6 January 2019

Drawing on the poppy’s synonymity with the commemoration of World War 1 and other conflicts, Papaver Rhoeas (l. field poppy) are uniquely crafted artworks produced by Paddy Hartley in collaboration with a unique team of science practitioners that address contemporary notions of remembrance and the cultural phenomena of memorialisation.

Papaver Rhoeas sculptures are composed of lamb’s heart tissue, horsehair and vintage suture cotton and are presented as pathological specimens in custom-made blown-glass vessels inspired by the forms of spent World War 1 artillery shells.  Each poppy varies in colour and composition, based on the treatment and processing of the tissue. 

As opposed to drawing an affinity to nationality or numbers of dead, Papaver Rhoeas simply acknowledges lives lost during conflict whether they are service personnel or civilian, young or old, or from any faith or ethnic background. Papaver Rhoeas emphasise our universally shared vulnerability of the flesh. 

As a result of intensive tissue processing in collaboration with his science partners, Paddy has created a selection of these sculptures with the specific dynamic of gradually fragment and disintegrate over their own lifespan. The physical object will literally transfigure to exist solely as a memory in the mind of the viewer. As temporary, transitory and ephemeral artworks, the Papaver Rhoeas sculptures dispute the veneration of the material trace and present a charged, vital and momentary reliquary for remembrance and memory.

Hartley's poppies remain a mirror for memory itself, being in a state of permanent evolution and, in some cases, susceptible to their own mortality, counter to the preservation and artificial persistence of collective memory. He presents the notion that a more vigorous and productive interaction with remembrance may well entail an ability to forget.

Papaver Rhoeas will tour venues throughout the UK from 2016. For all exhibiting and acquisition enquiries, please email using the CONTACT page.



Papaver Rhoeas, supported by the Wellcome Trust. With special thanks to the Dental Institute King's College London  

Film Direction and Edit by Raquel Couceiro & Tod Ivanov. Curated by Niamh White  

All image rights reserved © Copyright Paddy Hartley