Thursday, May 30, 2024

World-first global peace monument 

A new monument created as a symbol of hope and for peace around the world, is coming to The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field in Liverpool in time for the Eurovision Song Contest in May.

Called the Ukrainian Peace Monument – measuring 22 ft tall and cast in aluminium, the statue features a book, dove and the Ukrainian flag which sits atop a man’s outstretched arm. It will be situated in the grounds that were made famous in The Beatles’ song Strawberry Fields Forever, 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.

On February 24 – exactly one year since the start of the conflict – a smaller 4 ft maquette of the sculpture will be unveiled to special guests at the Ukrainian Art and Cultural Centre in Los Angeles, USA. The Honourable Emily Cloke, British Consul General in Los Angeles will also be in attendance.

The life-sized version will then be transported to Strawberry Field, where it will be a temporary feature at the attraction in time for the Eurovision Song Contest (May 9-13) – which this year takes place in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine – winners of the 2022 contest. It will be permanently placed in Ukraine when it’s safe to do so. 

The peace monument is being commissioned by California-based organisation, Global Peace Initiative, and is part of a wider group of monuments exhibited across the continent including Singapore and Liverpool in 2010, when an 18 ft peace sculpture was unveiled to commemorate John Lennon’s 70th birthday. 

The Ukrainian Peace Monument has been 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.

Osbelit’s village has a population of only 686. There are no art galleries or museums, so artistic inspiration was minimal. And yet, Osbelit was creating jaw-dropping paintings by the time she reached middle school. At just 16 years old, Osbelit is already being hailed as an artistic genius.

Kathy Versfeld, mission director at Strawberry Field, said: 

“We are so honoured to be chosen as the temporary home for the Ukrainian Peace Monument and to fulfil the wishes of the Global Peace Initiative which aims to reduce violence and conflict around the world, and promote peace – sentiments that John embodied throughout his life.

“This sculpture is a wonderful new addition to our gardens, particularly for the local Ukrainian community, who we have been supporting. The monument will also sit alongside the new Strawberry Field bandstand. Indeed, Eurovision will remind us how music has the power to unite us in times of strife. Our message is clear – whoever you are, wherever you are, give peace a chance.”

Osbelit Garcia-Morales, artist, said: 

“I’ve been listening to the song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ quite a bit. John Lennon sang: “Living is easy with eyes closed.” Coming from a small town in Mexico, it is easy to close one’s eyes to the suffering of people many thousands of miles away. 

“But, to have peace anywhere is to have peace everywhere, and so each of us must raise our voice in any way we can to ask that we all live in peace. That is why I adorned my monument with the message, “Live Peace.” I created this monument as a symbol of hope that the Ukrainian people can soon live in peace again.” 

The Global Peace Initiative, said: 

“The policy of the Global Peace Initiative has been to commission young artists to design and create our monuments for peace, for it is the young who suffer the most in times of war. In choosing Osbelit Garcia-Morales to create our monument for the people of Ukraine, we gained the dual advantage of a young artistic genius who could create a masterful work of art but also imbue it with such a powerful message of peace. 

“The Global Peace Initiative is enormously grateful to Strawberry Field in Liverpool for so magnificently carrying on the ideas of John Lennon by hosting our monument for the people of Ukraine until it can be safely and permanently located in that country.” 

During the month-long cultural festival that precedes the Eurovision final on May 13, Strawberry Field will be offering a varied programme of educational and community events in conjunction with partners across the Liverpool City Region, the local Ukrainian community and other faith groups. The Ukrainian Peace Monument will sit alongside the new Strawberry Field Forever bandstand, an exciting new addition to Strawberry Field which will hold peace vigils and other events when it’s officially opened in 2023.    

Located at the site of a former Salvation Army children’s home immortalised by John Lennon in The Beatles’ hit, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, Strawberry Field is a new award-winning visitor attraction just outside Liverpool. 

For more information about Strawberry Field and the Steps at Strawberry Field programmes, visit the website, and on social media – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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