16/06/2020 - Permalink

News from our partners: Save the Children artworks installed at The Mere in Ellesmere

Related topics: Leisure, culture and heritage / Partner organisations

News from our partners Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative

Two outstanding artworks by leading sculptors have been installed alongside The Mere in Ellesmere in time for Refugee Week, which runs until 21 June 2020.

It is the culmination of an 18-month project by the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative to celebrate the centenary of the Save the Children charity and commemorate its Ellesmere-born founders, Eglantyne Jebb and her sister, Dorothy Buxton.

One of the sculptures, called Refuge, depicts a refugee child finding shelter. It has been created in oak by artist John Merrill who used his 12-year-old son, Josef as a model for the child.

John, who works from a studio in the Ceiriog Valley near Chirk, also created the popular carved oak sculpture spelling the word Sshhh in a quiet woodland corner further  along the sculpture trail around The Mere.

His latest work, near the main entrance to Cremorne Gardens reflects “the experience of a lone child displaced by war, famine or climate change, seeking safety, security and shelter”.

John Merrill with his sculpture Refuge. The refugee child was modelled by his son, Josef, aged 12

John Merrill with his sculpture Refuge. The refugee child was modelled by his son, Josef, aged 12.

Explaining the concept, he said:

“The child and the building merge into one. In places he disappears into the very structure that protects him, expressing how children in society who need help can sometimes become invisible to the people who can help them.”

A second artwork nearby is an 8ft high abstract sculpture representing the Jebb sisters. It is designed as a tribute to their brave. visionary and inspirational work in launching Save the Children one hundred years ago to provide food and medical supplies for starving children in Germany and other parts of central Europe at the end of the 1st World War.

Nick Eames putting the finishing touches to his abstract sculptures, The Sisters, representing Eglantyne Jebb and her sister, Dorothy Buxton.

Nick Eames putting the finishing touches to his abstract sculptures, The Sisters, representing Eglantyne Jebb and her sister, Dorothy Buxton.


Artist Nick Eames from Cilcain in Flintshire explained:

“Anyone who studies their lives cannot fail to be moved by the humanity and vision of these two determined and remarkable women. Eglantyne and Dorothy faced huge hostility when they launched the charity. But they were able to achieve astonishing things because they stood shoulder to shoulder as sisters. This is what I wish to acknowledge in my sculpture – to convey not how they would have looked, but how they felt.”

The two art works will be linked by a winding labyrinth pathway, designed with the help of pupils at seven local schools. Once completed in the next few weeks, it will symbolise the perilous journeys endured by refugee children fleeing conflict over the past century. The area will be planted with shrubs and flowers to form the Jebb Garden.

The sculpture group’s artistic co-ordinator, Trudi Graham said:

“We’re delighted that these two impressive sculptures have been completed in time for Refugee Week and I hope that visitors to The Mere will appreciate what we’ve tried to achieve.

“Ellesmere was their birthplace and we felt that it was important to recognise the impact that their pioneering initiative has had in so many countries around the world over the past century, and to show that Ellesmere is very proud of  these remarkable women.

“We are very grateful for the financial help and overwhelming  support we’ve had from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, community organisations, Shropshire and Ellesmere councils, businesses and individuals and the Jebb family since we launched our project in November 2018, with the theme ‘Children Displaced by Conflict.’

“We particularly want to thank all the local schoolchildren who took part in our art workshops and provided inspiration and ideas to help us achieve our goal. They’ve been absolutely brilliant.”

The Mayor of Ellesmere, Councillor Paul Golbourne said:

“Ellesmere is very proud of the fact that Eglantine and her sister Dorothy were born and bred in Ellesmere, and I am very pleased that at long last they have been recognised locally with this new public garden and art installation in the Cremorne Gardens.

I hope that this new attraction will help to attract more visitors to the town. To help with this the town council have had signs erected at all roads into the town informing travellers to the area that Eglantyne Jebb was born in the town.”

For more information, please contact John Shone, publicity officer, Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative, 01691 624514

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