Ruth Co-Chair North’s Blog: 15th January
January is a strange month. After the Christmas and New Year period, it takes us time to get going again! There have been few meetings, as yet, but our new diaries are beginning to fill up and we look forward to meeting up again.
We have had an incredible amount of rain and our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by the floods. Even though it was wet under foot, we decided to go for a walk around the Mere at Ellesmere. The ground was very wet and muddy but at least it was fine; the Mere looked beautiful and we spent a while watching the wild fowl and sea-birds. As we walked, we entered the part named ‘The Jebb Garden’, which is the start of a Sculpture Trail which highlights the work of two sisters born in Ellesmere. The conflict in Israel and Palestine, Ukraine and Russia and the effect it is having on people, particularly children, is never very far from my mind. Being homeless and a refugee in weather such as we have experienced this month, must be dreadful. I feel I need to do something, but what? The sculpture project is named ‘Children Displaced by Conflict’, a commemoration of the creation of Save the Children Fund by Eglantyne Jebb and her sister, Dorothy Buxton, who were born in Ellesmere. In 1919, the two sisters were so moved by the plight of children displaced by the conflict of WW1, that they campaigned and formed the ‘Save the Children Fund’.
The Sculpture project began in December 2018 with a series of community and school workshops, involving seven local schools, and a research programme. Using art and stories, the workshop participants were asked to imagine living as a refugee, alone and frightened, after being forced to leave their home. The results of the workshops were used to inform and inspire the concept and design of the landmark sculptural installation as a testament to the sisters’ achievements as compassionate, visionary pioneers.
The first sculpture, by Nick Eames, in cement, is of a split piece of kindling wood which emphasises the closeness of the two sisters and how they stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’. Next to it there is a labyrinth, with the word ’Hope’ written in Arabic. The second sculpture, by John Merrill, is really striking and evocative (see photo). It represents a displaced child, seeking refuge, supporting its own shelter. We stood looking at it for a long time, remembering and praying for those innocent children caught up in current conflicts through no fault of their own. Next to this sculpture, there is an installation entitled ‘Mankind’, words by Eglantyne Jebb written in stone. Her words inspired the United Nations Rights of the Child: ‘Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give’.
Not only did Eglantyne and Dorothy help to save millions of lives, they also changed the way the world should treat children. Perhaps we are not shouting loud enough?!