Paul Cummins MBE

Ceramic installation artist and former architect Paul Cummins MBE devises art that creates high impact, emotional resonance and direct connectivity with public audiences. Influenced by the juxtaposition between buildings and structures alongside the natural world, as well as human reactions to symbolism in our culture, Cummins mixes textures and materials together to deliver truly arresting results.

Art is a great conduit for creativity and the more people engage in great art, the more they can experience creativity from a personal perspective. Perhaps then they will have the opportunity to feel, as I do, that creativity is life. – Paul Cummins, Campaign Magazine

Selected Works

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Paul Cummins MBE

English Flower Garden, Unlimited

Paul Cummins MBE

Candy

Paul Cummins MBE

Biography

PAUL CUMMINS MBE
British, b. 1977

Paul Cummins MBE (born 26th September 1977) is a ceramic installation artist from Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Cummins’ reputation has grown exponentially since the unveiling of his large-scale installation, ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London in 2014 and subsequent tour of Wave and Weeping Window. 

Starting his career in architecture, Cummins soon decided to embark on a degree in craft and ceramics at the University of Derby’s College of Arts. Once finished with his training, Cummins, who suffers from colour associated dyslexia, was one of the artists commissioned by the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the UK Arts Council and the British Council to produce works for Unlimited, a programme celebrating disabled artists’ work in the run up to and during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Cummins’ vision was realised as The English Flower Garden. The installation was sited at six famous British residences. Each exhibition featured different handmade and glazed ceramic flowers associated with its site – meadow blooms, roses, sweet peas and delphiniums.

Cummins then went on to create the internationally acclaimed installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, which was made up of 888,246 red ceramic poppies displayed at The Tower of London from 17 July until 11 November 2014. Each poppy represented a British or Colonial life lost at The Front of the First World War. Each poppy was progressively ‘planted’ in the moat of the Tower of London by over 30,000 volunteers. The poppies encircled the iconic London landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower, but also a location for personal reflection for over 5 million visitors from across the globe. All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold raising £9.5 million, which was shared equally amongst six service charities. In recognition of the success of the work, Cummins was awarded an MBE in the 2015 New Year Honours, Cummins’ award being made “for services to Art and First World War Commemorations”.

Weeping Window and Wave, the two key sculptural elements from ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, together totalling 11,000 poppies, were bought in their entirety to preserve them for the nation by Susie Sainsbury of the Backstage Trust and Vivien Duffield of the Clore Duffield Foundation. The sculptures were then gifted to the nation and started a four-year tour across the UK, presented by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s First World War cultural programme. From November 2018 after their final public appearances on the tour, Wave and Weeping Window found their permanent homes in the collections of Imperial War Museums North and London, respectively.

In 2015, Cummins also exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show. His installation Candy stood 8 metres tall and was made up of over 2,500 porcelain variegated tulips in a variety of colours with the pattern, with proceeds from the sale of individual tulips flowers going to charity.

Exhibition Highlights

TRAINING
1999 BA in Environmental Architectural Design, Sheffield Hallam University
2010 BA in Craft, specialising in Ceramics, University of Derby

PUBLIC INSTALLATION
2010 Floralia, Florabundance, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK
2011 Roses, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, UK
2014 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, HRP Tower of London, UK
2015 Candy, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London, UK
2015 – 2018 Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window, 14-18 NOW Tour, UK-wide
2015 Wave, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK
2015 Weeping Window, Woodhorn Museum, Northumberland, UK
2015 – 2016 Weeping Window, St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, UK
2016 Weeping Window, St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, UK
2016 Wave, Lincoln Castle, UK
2016 Weeping Window, The Black Watch Museum, Perth
2016 Weeping Window, Caernarfon Castle, UK
2017 Weeping Window, Hull Maritime Museum, UK
2017 Wave, Barge Pier, Shoeburyness, Southend-on-Sea, UK
2017 Weeping Window, The Silk Mill, Derby, UK
2017 Weeping Window, The National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff
2017 Wave, CWGC Plymouth Naval Memorial, UK
2017 Weeping Window, Ulster Museum, Belfast
2018 Weeping Window, Hereford Cathedral, UK
2018 Wave, Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson, UK
2018 Weeping Window, Carlisle Castle, UK
2018 Weeping Window, Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
2018 Wave, IWM North, London, UK
2018 Weeping Window, IWM London, UK

MIXED EXHIBITION
2011 Tregoning Contemporary Summer Show, Derbyshire, UK
2012 English Country Garden, Unlimited London Cultural Olympiad, UK

PRIVATE COMMISSION
2010 Derby Royal Hospital, Derby, UK
2011 Private Commission 200 ceramic bowls, Origin Contemporary Craft Fair, UK

SELECTED AWARDS
2009 University of Derby Spotlight Award
2014 MBE for services to Art and Commemoration, awarded by HRH The Duke of Cambridge
2015 Hudson Heritage Special Award for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’
2015 Museum and Heritage Award for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’
2015 Awarded Key to the City of Derby
2015 London First ‘Contribution to London’s Cultural Excellence’ Award for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’
2015 Honorary Master of the Arts from University of Derby
2015 Awarded Visiting Director of the Arts, University of Derby
2015 Pro-Tem Special Award for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Civic Trust Awards
2015 Tourism Society Awards for ‘Blood Swept Lands an Seas of Red’
2015 Colour Moment of the Year for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Dulux Let’s Colour Awards
2015 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Visual Art for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’
2015 Receives Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy by London Metropolitan University
2015 Hero Award at Help for Heroes Award for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’
2015 Best British Cultural & Creative Innovation Award for ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Walpole British Luxury Awards