Phoenix Glade, Newsham Park, Liverpool
Phoenix Glade is a creative environmental initiative dedicated to those who have died during the corona virus pandemic. It will be a beautiful visual and living tribute which will grow over time. It will create opportunities for the bereaved to speak about their loved ones, share their grief with others and engage in a ritual of commemoration which makes up, in some way, for the lack of opportunity to say good bye or to grieve in a normal way.
The Phoenix Glade has two elements. The first will be the creation of the glade through planting thirty trees, with accompanying flowers. The second will be its inauguration through a unique fire sculpture event which, dependent on the support, will then see the installation of a permanent phoenix sculpture. There may also be the future potential to increase in the number of trees encircling the heart shaped glade.
A place of solace in honour of people lost during the coronavirus pandemic. It will create a space for individual and collective reflection in a way that is meaningful for those who visit the glade or gets involved in its creation. A phoenix sculpture will offer a symbol of loss and renewal with a fire sculpture providing a symbolic point of letting go, and a permanent artwork offering the same symbol for future visitors to see.
Story behind the project
Coming to terms with the death of loved ones is a process often eased by the precious time we might spend with loved ones close to death as well as afterwards through the ceremonies and traditions which help us share our feelings and say our goodbyes. One of the unexpected cruel outcomes of the corona virus pandemic has that it has deprived those in grief. Families were not permitted to be with their loved ones as they passed away and funerals were severely compromised by the requirements of lock-down and social distancing. Nor as a society have we been able to gather and acknowledge of the loss of so many people in such a short space of time. The collective focus on health, distancing and economy has overshadowed all our feelings of loss… yet the feelings have not gone away.
One local woman, who had lost her mother, felt that perhaps planting a tree might offer some way to begin that grieving process not only for her but also her children. Talking with Tree House Liverpool community project, it was clear that many other local people were a similar place and the idea grew to create a way in they might be involved in some kind of observance which acknowledged their loss and which could meet individual needs as well as helping our community as a whole. This became a vision of a group of trees, in the shape of a heart providing individuals and the community with a place to acknowledge all we have lost. Further conversations with an artist considering the same issues led to the idea of a fire sculpture and a permanent public artwork linked with the trees to create the Phoenix Glade…
Community engagement and support
The Phoenix Glade will offer a number of ways in which people can take part, support or share in the project. We want to hear from families who have lost loved ones who feel they would benefit from dedicating a tree. We also need help with digging, with planting and in other aspects of creating the glade. We know all those involved will have a personal reason for helping so that every tree, flower and element of the project will reflect our collective feelings whether it is to commemorate, celebrate, reflect or remember. We particularly hope to involve young people and families in activities.
As well as physical help the project also needs some financial support to achieve its goals. If you are an individual or an organisation who would like to help in this way please get in touch.
Tree House, Liverpool, is a community project that has lead on scores of participatory projects both in Newsham Park and the surrounding community. Led by Christina Ashworth the project is working with Sarah Johnson, a neighbour of Newsham Park whose personal experience inspired the idea of the glade. Joe Robinson is an artist who also works in the field of community regeneration. He has delivered various public art works, and fire sculptures, including work that pays tribute to people who had been lost. Like other projects delivered by Treehouse Liverpool the Phoenix Glade will work closely with the Council’s parks staff and other relevant agencies. All the main partners have committed to delivering this project irrespective of resources available but our hope is to deliver it through a normal funded budget and process.
Read more about the project on this Tree Council press release.
You can help make Phoenix Glade a reality through supporting the project. Treehouse and its partners are committed to delivering the project come what may but we hope to make this a fully rounded and funded project. Even if you cannot take part or visit the park you can still help by supporting Phoenix Glade and in doing so play a personal part in the commemoration.
Using the idea of Phoenix Glade elsewhere
Reception for the idea of Phoenix Glade has been very positive and we have already had others expressing interest in replicating the concept elsewhere. We are more than happy for that to happen, and we can even help with information and designs, but we would ask that you get in touch with us first before using the ideas and concepts we have developed.
You can get in touch about the project through this website. Please note that Treehouse Liverpool is a successful organisation but is also a small organisation working with a freelance and self-employed team. That sometimes places limits on which requests or opportunities we can respond to.Every practical aspect of the Phoenix Glade project will be embedded in good practice with regard to necessary Covid safety. This understandably means plans and activities may adapt as circumstances change.