Ellesmere garden will celebrate Save the Children centenary

The heart-rending suffering of child refugees forced to flee their homes in war-torn countries will be the focus of a new garden feature and art installation in Ellesmere.

Save the Children’s founder, Eglantyne Jebb
Save the Children’s founder, Eglantyne Jebb

The garden, which will be laid out alongside the Mere, will commemorate the pioneering achievements of Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton, who set up Save the Children in 1919 to help children left starving in Germany and Austria at the end of the First World War.

Following a comprehensive selection process, two North Wales artists have been commissioned to create sculptures close to the main entrance to Cremorne Garden, less than a mile from The Lyth country house where the sisters were born.

An interactive labyrinth will also form a key part of the development and residents are being offered a chance to help out with its design.

It will symbolise the harrowing and traumatic journeys undertaken by displaced children seeking to escape dangerous conflicts across the world over the last century.

Artist John Merrill, from the Ceiriog Valley. Picture by Andrew Gale

The project will be the culmination of a wide-ranging programme led by volunteers from the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative.

Within the garden, children and adults will be encouraged to follow an intricate maze-like pathway leading to a figure of a lone refugee child seeking shelter.

Another sculptural artwork overlooking the garden will represent the Jebb sisters in abstract form.

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One of the artists chosen to carry out the work is John Merrill, from the Ceiriog Valley near Chirk, who created the popular SShhh sculpture in Cremorne Gardens.

The commission for the second artist has been awarded to Nick Eames from Cilcain in Flintshire, who has been a practising sculptor since he was 14.

Sculptor Nick Eames from Cilcain near Mold. Picture by David Allen

Trudi Graham, the sculpture group’s artistic co-ordinator said: “We have thought long and hard over many months about how best to represent the values and achievements of Eglantyne Jebb who became the principal driving force in the development of Save the Children into what it is today.

“Our project has involved more than six hundred local children and when we asked them about the plight of refugees in places like Syria, Yemen and Myanmar, they responded with insightful words and pictures that were deeply touching and very impressive.

"This is the inspiration behind what people will see in Ellesmere when the art installation is completed in the spring.”

The labyrinth will be developed with the help of Shrewsbury-based artists Sculpturelogic and will be installed by Orchardfield ecological groundworkers.

The final phase of the centenary project will include a seminar at Ellesmere College’s art centre on April 1, where leading speakers will examine the legacy of Eglantyne Jebb and discuss some of the issues and challenges facing Save the Children and other aid agencies in helping victims of war, famine and climate change.

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