Jones suggests that instead of poppies, the moat be "filled with barbed wire and bones." But what's the point in rebuilding fences and piling on the bodies? Haven't we had enough atrocities to look at? We need beauty to commemorate gore, in part to remind us of what else humans are capable of. I like the fluidity of the "sea of red;" it recalls blood without being quite so graphically literal. The blood-soaked Flanders fields have grown over again; it doesn't erase the gruesomeness, but calls attention to it even more strongly. Life is the sharpest way to illuminate death, and vice versa. How dare life go on and write over the past.
Jones derides this particular installation, but all war memorials are "deeply aestheticised, [and] prettified." That's why we build them. As for "toothless," I don't think so - there's a bite to each flower that has to be planted and then uprooted. (I would say thorn, but then I'd be mixing my horticultural metaphors.) Maybe some people have come in "reverence for those heroes turned frozen flowers." But the vast sweep of the installation provides enough space to provoke other thoughts, questions and perspectives. If people are remembering and thinking beyond the simplistic, nationalistic narrative, it is a good thing. And frankly, any way someone experiences it is fine by me, because at least they are taking that moment to look and to think. If you're really going to take issue with war memorials, take a moment to wonder why we spare so much thought for the atrocities of one hundred years ago and not for the destruction happening in our lifetimes, or even right this minute.
I agree with Jones that we shouldn't glorify war, or limit our view to one country's contribution. But I don't agree that the poppy exhibit endorses the former or prevents the latter. In fact, knowing that the scope is solely the 888,246 British fatalities reminds you that it's just a fraction of the devastating total. However, I may just be more cognizant of that as a foreigner.
I also agree that if you're experiencing it with crowds it's going to be a poor experience. I was lucky to visit on a quiet day, good for staring and wandering and reflection. Still, better to be begrudgingly experiencing something like this than to be buried in the ground, a poppy in a field.