Poppies for Peace is based on an initiative taken by ceramic artist Anita Huybens (1949-2008):
“For quite a while I wanted to do something dealing with amputation and the loss of one’s abilities as a consequence. Losing a part of your body and learning how to live that way … is painful and difficult, I know. An encounter helped to enable me to, as well as dare to, work on this theme. On one of my Raku-firing days Mic Billet told me about his Apopo-project. A group of ‘inspirators’ worked on developing a method using rats to track and deactivate landmines in former warzones. Thus, it was possible to prevent the trackers and the local residents from having more limbs torn off. This story coincided with the amputation project which had been in the back of my mind for a long time. It emerged as the image of a field full of poppies.
Poppies remind us of the battlefields in WWI during which the bodies of so many were shot to pieces. Poppies remind us of the symbolic meaning which the British attached to them in order to make sure that the dead would not disappear into oblivion. Poppies remind me of my childhood, when I gathered a bunch of them for my grandmother who accepted them as a great present. Because of all these intense experiences, I grew towards the decision to make a field of 1000 ceramic poppies…it’s as if I feel compelled to do this …now, in this life I can still live.
I hope that I have thus been able to create a form for the theme of amputation which I recognize in myself and in many other people. I hope that people will be able to encounter one another around this theme and that many will take along a poppy to financially support the Apopo-project.
Early 2016, the Poppies for Peace committee came to the conclusion that, to their pride and satisfaction, Apopo as an organisation, after all these (12!) years of support, had grown mature. After good consideration and a unanimous decision, it was time to offer the support of the big Poppies to a new project. A project which would not only need to respect the original spirit of the Poppies for Peace organization ànd the original inspiration of Anita, but also reïnitiate a more substancial and direct impact for the selected organisation in the field. The project which in essence matches with all of the requirements according to the Poppies for Peace committee, is the demining project of Handicap International in Eastern-Congo.