Reflective Memorial to Coronavirus Comes to Exeter Cathedral

Exeter Cathedral is to be the first host of a nationally touring art installation, designed to provide people with an opportunity to personally reflect on the coronavirus pandemic.

‘The Leaves of the Trees’ installation, which will be at the Cathedral from 3rd until 24th September, will be visiting towns and cities around the country. Created by sculptor, Peter Walker, it has been designed to
honour those who have passed away during the pandemic, but also to provide a focal point for the local community, helping to reflect on recent events and think about loved ones.

The artwork has been welcomed by the Dean of Exeter, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, as an aid to healing after particularly challenging times.

“People have been coming to this awe-inspiring building, seeking quiet reflection, for over 800 years. So now we are delighted to be the first to host Peter Walker’s new installation, which will bring a new way of helping visitors to remember loved ones and contemplate all that has happened over the last few months.”

Designed as a reflective memorial to the pandemic, the installation is made up of 5,000 steel leaves, each featuring the word ‘HOPE’, to be laid out on the floor of the Cathedral, creating an impression of fallen autumn leaves. The leaves are symbolic for the times we are living in, as sculptor Peter Walker explains:

“Steel has been chosen as the material for the leaves, to remind us of our resilience and collective strength. As the artwork tours around the country the steel will age, rust and change colour, just as the leaves of trees do when they fall each year. However in nature fallen leaves are essential to prepare the planet for spring and new growth. It is hoped that the simplicity and beauty of this installation will give people the chance to pause and contemplate their own experience and also the wider situation that we find ourselves in.”

As part of the project, which is supported by the Guild of Health and St Raphael, visitors will also be invited to write their own thoughts, messages and prayers on paper leaves.

‘The Leaves of the Trees’ installation will be at Exeter Cathedral from 3rd until 24th September. Admission is included with the Cathedral’s reduced entrance fee of £5, and full Covid-19 safety precautions will be in place.

After Exeter, the installation will move on to other cathedrals around the country, including Sheffield, Lichfield and Rochester.

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