The Leaves of the Trees  – a reflective memorial
11 May* – 6 June 2021

* Please note that from 11-16 May, until we reopen to the public on 17 May, the installation will only be available to those who have come to the Minster to attend a service or for private prayer/reflection, for which the installation is perfect. From 17 May, the installation is open to all from 11am – 3pm.

The leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2)

We are delighted to announce that Southwell Minster will be hosting an artwork installation by the internationally acclaimed sculptor Peter Walker. The Leaves of the Trees is a reflective memorial to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. A simple but moving artwork creating a moment of connection and calm, this thought-provoking installation comes to Southwell Minster from 11 May – 6 June 2021 after previous spells at Exeter, Sheffield and Lichfield cathedrals in the latter half of 2020.

We are extremely grateful to our partners at Newark & Sherwood District Council who have helped part-fund this installation.

The project is designed to link directly to the sentiments of those who have experienced the pandemic, both those who have lost loved ones and those additionally or personally affected.

The installation allows individuals and families as well as communities to take time to consider the past periods of lockdown and isolation and provide a focal point for their thoughts, prayers and personal reflections.

The Leaves of the Trees

The Leaves of the Trees comprise 5,000 five-inch leaves, each cut from 1mm mild steel, chosen as the material for the leaves to remind us of our resilience and collective strength. The leaves will slowly change from steel to rusted tones as the leaves gradually change colour over the period of the tour, just as the leaves of trees do when they fall each year.

Each leaf, individually carved with the word HOPE, will be laid out on the floor, creating a beautiful cascading impression of autumn leaves fallen from the trees, appearing as though naturally scattered by the wind. The leaves symbolise the past, what has transpired, as we hope for a better future.

The Very Reverend Nicola Sullivan, Dean of Southwell, said:

“We have all been affected by the terrible impact of the pandemic.  We have had so few ways to grieve and Peter Walker’s simple but powerful installation will help us find healing and hope amidst our tears and loss.  This is for everyone – whatever age or faith, and we invite everyone to come to their Cathedral for moments of quiet reflection.”

Peter Walker, the sculptor and man behind The Leaves of the Trees, said:

“Over the past 12 months we have collectively seen many of the things we take for granted, moved out of reach, and confronted by challenges, personal, national and international which have not been experienced for generations. Yet despite this, and despite the hardships, loss and difficulties, there has been hope. Hope exposed as glimpses of individual endeavour, kindness and service, hope as revealed by nature and the joy that it brings and hope which human ingenuity and resolve has revealed. The Leaves of the Trees installation is designed to provide an opportunity to take a moment out of our lives and to reflect on our individual and collective experience and to allow us to recall that there is hope, in its many manifestations, which is ever more visible to us through kindness, faith, science and family.”

Richard Huthwaite, Business Manager – Tourism, Newark & Sherwood District Council said:

“Newark and Sherwood District Council is very pleased to support this unique and inspiring installation at Southwell Minster – the perfect setting for such a beautiful and contemplative creation. In these most challenging of times, the memorial will give people a valuable opportunity to both honour those lost to the pandemic and look forward with a sense of togetherness and hope. We would like to congratulate everyone involved in bringing this highly respected work to Southwell.”


The Leaves of the Trees

All images courtesy of Peter Walker, @pwalkersculptor
Peter would like to thank his sponsors of the exhibition, The Guild of Health and St Raphael.

About Peter Walker, Sculptor

Peter Walker is an internationally renowned sculptor and artist. Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.  Producing sculptures, paintings, drawings, installation pieces, and Son-et-Lumiere for large scale public art events, his extensive creative ability has led him to produce many bronze public statues permanently located around the country and have works in private and public collections worldwide.

Peter is currently the Artistic Director as well as resident artist at Lichfield Cathedral and consults with other UK Cathedrals on visionary and unique artistic programmes that he creates specifically for them. The 2019 Programme – Journeys Through Space Light and Time is currently shortlisted for the Partnership of the Year at the Museum and Heritage Awards 2020.

Furthermore, working with as lead artist and Director for an artistic collaboration known as ‘Luxmuralis’ Peters artwork is used to transform architectural buildings with spectacular sound and light shows. Most recently Peters work has been seen at Westminster Abbey, Chatsworth House, Salisbury Cathedral (amongst many other Cathedrals across the UK, and abroad in Germany, Italy and Dubai).

Peter’s installation and sculptural artwork transforms spaces and places, with the Artist viewing every space indoors and outdoors as a potential gallery creating art accessible for all demographics, engaging young people, informing school educational programmes, reaching wide audiences internationally and providing opportunities for the arts for all ages.

Using traditional techniques in a way that offers unique and contemporary ways to communicate to the viewing public often results in evoking powerful emotion, wonder and awe in the viewer.