The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field in Liverpool has today unveiled an iconic, world-first monument dedicated to bringing peace and hope to the people of Ukraine and everywhere.
As the world’s focus turns to Liverpool for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, the Ukrainian Peace Monument – measuring 16 ft tall – will be a temporary feature at the popular visitor attraction and a huge draw for the throngs of visitors expected in the city this month. It will then move to Ukraine at a future date as a permanent monument when it is safe to do so.
Cast in aluminium, the statue depicts a man holding aloft a book, dove and the Ukrainian flag, with messages in keeping with John Lennon’s famous anti-war anthem,‘Give Peace a Chance’ using the power of music to unite countries everywhere.
Situated in the gardens that were made famous in The Beatles’ song Strawberry Fields Forever, the Ukrainian Peace Monument was created by 16-year-old Mexican art prodigy, Osbelit Garcia-Morales. After a worldwide search in 2022, a California-based artist coalition called the Global Peace Initiative awarded Osbelit the commission to design the sculpture.
The monument joins a number of symbols of peace located within the grounds of Strawberry Field, including the new Strawberry Field Bandstand, one of the most technologically advanced bandstands in the world, and based upon the drum featured on The Beatles’ iconic album cover, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The bandstand – a donation from Cliff Cooper, CEO of Orange Amps and honorary patron of the Strawberry Field project – features a larger replica of the ‘Imagine’ mosaic in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields memorial in New York, and was also officially unveiled today.
The official opening ceremony saw visitors from Liverpool and beyond join Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, Robert Owen; High Sheriff of Merseyside, Dr Ruth Hussey CB OBE; the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, cllr Roy Gladden; Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram; John Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird; leaders of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain in Liverpool, Petro Rewko and Rev. Dr Taras Khomych; and the Salvation Army’s divisional leader for the North West, Major David Taylor, during a special celebration of music and celebration. Performers included singer-songwriter Brooke Combe; The Liverpool Signing Choir, accompanied by Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister; and Jimmy Coburn.
Kathy Versfeld, mission director at Strawberry Field, said:
“The Ukrainian Peace Monument invites our guests to make a stand for peace, whoever they are, wherever they are – sentiments that John Lennon lived and breathed throughout his life. The monument is a beautiful new symbol of hope for Ukraine, and it will be a reminder to the rest of the world of the path to peace: serve, share, forgive, dialogue. Strawberry Field is honoured to be the custodians of the monument until it can make its final journey to Ukraine, fulfilling the wishes of the Global Peace Initiative which aims to reduce violence and conflict around the world.
“As Liverpool once again unites the world through music and song, our new monument is a timely reminder to the world – in the words of John – to give peace a chance.”
The Ukrainian Peace Monument is the second peace monument from the Global Peace Initiative to be unveiled in Liverpool. The John Lennon Peace Monument was unveiled by Julian and Cynthia Lennon at a ceremony in Liverpool in 2010, celebrating what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday and stands immediately opposite the M&S Bank Arena where Eurovision is being staged.
Today’s unveiling is part of Strawberry Field’s spring/summer cultural programme celebrating music and imagining peace together. Events planned in the lead up to Eurovision and throughout May will involve partners from across the Liverpool City Region, the local Ukrainian community and other church groups in order to establish an ongoing legacy of unity and collaboration arising out of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Strawberry Field is a visitor attraction in Liverpool, located at the iconic site immortalised by John Lennon in The Beatles’ hit, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Telling the story of John Lennon’s childhood and the writing and recording of this iconic song, the attraction is home to an interactive visitor exhibition which includes the actual ‘Imagine piano’, the original red gates, and the peaceful gardens where John played, climbed trees and dreamed as a child.