Memorial Consultation in Gunnersbury Park
We want to hear from our community
In partnership with the Humanitarian Aid Memorial Committee and CAS *Consultancy (CAS *C), we have been working to bring the first permanent memorial to humanitarian workers. This will give relatives, friends and colleagues a dedicated place to gather and reflect on their loved ones' sacrifices and celebrate their work.
At Gunnersbury we have an established Education and Outreach programme, which presents an ideal format for sharing the stories of the memorial and humanitarianism more widely with the local community.
The long term ownership of and care for the memorial is a consideration for the Humanitarian Committee, which intends to gift the memorial to Gunnersbury alongside an endowment fund that can be held towards care and maintenance of the work for the years to come. Hear from two of the committee members in the below short videos.
Artist Michael Landy, CBE, RA has been commissioned for the project. Landy is recognised as an internationally important artist and his proposal for the memorial enjoys the support of many luminaries in the British art world including those heading up The Design Museum, Artangel, The Henry Moore Institute and the former Head of Exhibitions at The British Council. Landy has developed the memorial design through collaboration with the Committee and CAS *C. His proposal is for a work of art that creates a space for people to walk around, through and become a part of.
Siting the work at Gunnersbury (the site we are looking for is close to the Round Pond) offers an opportunity for us to host a memorial of tremendous resonance for local communities and an artwork of international importance, as Landy’s first permanent publicly-sited work. Additionally, the World Humanitarian Day memorial event held every August at Westminster Abbey would move to an annual event hosted by Gunnersbury Park, with a programme of linked events and outreach sharing the messages of humanitarian work and encouraging local people to learn more.
What is a humanitarian aid worker?
Humanitarian aid workers assist people in need due to conflicts, natural disasters, outbreaks, a breakdown of healthcare or infrastructure, and more. Each year, tens of thousands of international humanitarian aid workers are deployed worldwide. Humanitarian aid deployments can last weeks to years, but many of the humanitarian aid workers in the greatest jeopardy are the ones working within their own countries at times of distress. The majority of humanitarian aid workers are volunteers within their own communities. This is emotionally and physically exhausting work, which can be very dangerous. There is currently no dedicated memorial to humanitarian aid workers.
What will the memorial look like?
Michael Landy, CBE, RA, has developed the memorial design through collaboration with the Committee steering group and CAS *C. His proposal is for a work of art that creates a space for people to walk around, through and become a part of.
The memorial comprises a 7m dia. circle of linked human-scale figures, with apertures that allow visitors to 'complete the circle'. Inside the circle, text and images are drawn onto the figures, telling the story of humanitarian aid work for audiences young and old.
The memorial will be constructed as a series of 15 humanoid forms, which will be linked at the ‘hands’. Each figure will be made from a steel sub-frame with a depth of 25mm. The dark green is RAL6002, while the slightly off-white will be either RAL9010, RAL9003 or RAL9016.
The frames will be hand-painted, with acrylic polyurethane colours and a clearcoat finish, which will act as a sacrificial layer should there be deliberate damage to the work (ie. graffiti). To protect the grass around the memorial, it is proposed that a plastic mesh is inserted in the topsoil, allowing foot traffic to explore the memorial area without wearing away grass.
Who is the Humanitarian Aid Memorial Committee?
The Committee was established in 2015 following recognition, in the context of the annual marking of World Humanitarian Day, that there was nowhere for humanitarians and their families and friends to gather and nowhere which recognised the service given and sacrifices made by humanitarians, both those who have died and those who continue their work in extreme situations.
The Committee does not have a defined legal status, but its membership is designed to represent the main humanitarian organisations in the UK - international NGOs such as Oxfam and Save The Children, and the British Red Cross, for example - as well as relatives of those killed, other interested individuals with international humanitarian backgrounds, and Westminster Abbey, where World Humanitarian Day is currently marked each August.
The Disaster Emergency Committee, which raises funds for major international disasters on behalf of the main UK-based humanitarian actors, acts as the Committee’s legal arm and funding depository and there is a Memorandum of Understanding between the Committee and the DEC. The Overseas Development Institute, which is the development research arm of the British Government, has meanwhile provided administration and other services to the Committee.
Once the Memorial has been installed and arrangements for its ownership, future maintenance and use are in place, the Committee itself is expected to disappear. However, the intention is to ensure that the main humanitarian players in the UK, as well as DEC itself, continue to take a close interest in the memorial and how humanitarians and others interact with it, including its use as the central point for the annual gathering on World Humanitarian Day.
Members of the Committee are: Sir John Holmes, formerly UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, and Chair of the International Rescue Committee UK, current Trustee of the British Red Cross and Chair of the Humanitarian Memorial Committee; Dame Barbara Stocking, former CEO of Oxfam GB, and former President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, currently heading up the international effort to coordinate future pandemic preparedness. Chair of the Committee from 2015-2019; Sir Nick Young, formerly Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Care, and CEO of the British Red Cross; Nick Roseveare, formerly Humanitarian Director, Oxfam GB, CEO of Bond UK, and CEO Mine Action Group; Sir Brendan Gormley, formerly CEO of DEC; Sara Pantuliano, Head of the Overseas Development Institute; Dr Elaine Laycock, founder member of the movement to commemorate humanitarians; Saleh Saeed, CEO of DEC; Dr Vicki Metcalf, Humanitarian analyst and researcher.
How was the artist selected?
The Contemporary Art Society, through an agreement with DEC, has taken on the role of helping select and manage the artist selected to provide the memorial, Michael Landy CBE, and the installation of the work.
Contemporary Art Society *Consultancy (CAS *C) was appointed by the Committee to support the commissioning of a contemporary artist to design the memorial. CAS *C developed a delivery plan and Artist Brief, which was shared with a curated list of internationally significant artists for their consideration. In 2016, after a rigorous short-listing process, the Committee unanimously agreed to commission Michael Landy, CBE RA based on his previous body of work and obvious interest in the nature and thematics of the commission.
Who is Michael Landy?
Michael Landy was born in London in 1963; he lives and works in London. He studied at Goldsmiths in the late 1980s, with work shown at the now historic Freeze exhibition at London’s docklands in 1988.
Landy’s concern with the attribution of value and ownership is central to his practice, notably in Break Down (2001), in which every one of the artist’s 7,227 possessions was systematically destroyed by Landy and his assistants over the course of two weeks in a former C&A department store building in Oxford Street, London. In a continued documentation of passing intimacies, for London TFL’s Art on the Underground, Landy created Acts of Kindness (2011-2012) where he invited members of the public to submit stories of kindness later featured on London Underground stations.
In 2017, in collaboration with NEON, Greece and the public of Athens, Landy staged the large-scale exhibition Breaking News- Athens at the disused Diplarios School and building over a four-month period. It was followed later that year by DEMONSTRATION, the Fleck Celestory commission at Powerplant, Toronto, with an installation of drawings built with content submitted by the Canadian public. The interactive installation Open for Business, Landy’s ‘Brexit kiosk’, was commissioned for the first Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art in 2018.
Landy’s works are held in public institutions internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; the Arts Council, England; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Landy received a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2021.
How will the story behind the memorial be told?
The memorial offers an exceptional opportunity to share ideas and information about humanitarian work and ways we can all be more involved in helping others.
Gunnersbury Park and Museum, which has an established Education and Outreach programme, presents an ideal format for sharing the stories of the memorial and humanitarianism more widely. The museum is deeply connected with and has substantial links to its constituent community. The museum offers formal and informal learning opportunities across a wide range of topics, skills and curriculum areas. It provides learning experiences for schools and colleges, groups with special educational needs and disabilities, Early Years, home educators, ESOL students, lifelong learners, young people and community groups.
The museum works with 160 primary schools across the two boroughs and is in a position to integrate workshops as well as learning materials relating to humanitarianism and the
Who will look after it?
Gunnersbury Park will care for the memorial.
What if it’s damaged?
Maintenance for the memorial will be similar to that used for public furniture like benches and bus shelters, with a light cleaning schedule and regular visual checks from the grounds staff at Gunnersbury Park.
The memorial will be painted with additional layers of varnish, which will protect the base coat painting from graffiti. Grounds staff will clean graffiti as it appears and re-apply varnish layers to protect the work.
The work will be insured against more serious damage and, should this occur, the fabrication team will be brought on site to assess and repair as appropriate. A full maintenance manual will be handed over to Gunnersbury Park once the memorial has been installed.
The Committee has allocated an endowment fund to cover costs as and when they arise to ensure the memorial can be cared for appropriately.
How long will it be here?
The memorial is proposed as a permanent addition to the landscape of Gunnersbury Park. It has a design life of 25+ years.
What if I don’t like it?
We hope that visitors will find the memorial to be a positive addition to the park but appreciate it may not be to everyone’s taste. If there are comments you would like to make or queries you would like to raise, please contact us on email@example.com.
What if I can’t visit the memorial?
We would like the memorial to acts as an international beacon and think one way to share the message with people who can’t visit it is to create a website that can act as a resource. We will be investigating this work in the coming year.
Where will the memorial be?
The site we have selected is south of the Round Pond between the Cedars of Lebanon. This area is close to the hard standing of the main path while sitting outside the protected vistas of the park. It is also close to the carpark and the amenities of Gunnersbury Park Museum and other buildings and so is a good location, especially for visitors with mobility issues.
The work can be accessed freely by anyone in the park. A wheelchair-accessible path to the circle ( 7m diameter). The piece will have absolutely negligible impact on the park landscape in terms of scale and access.
What benefit will it bring to Gunnersbury Park?
The piece is by a world renowned artist and it is anticipated that its presence at Gunnersbury will boost visitor numbers; it is intended to act as a stimulus for the expansion of our education programme from the museum, working with local schools around the themes explored by the piece and the rationale behind the commission itself.
We believe that the broad theme of humanitarian aid will chime with the diverse populations of Hounslow and Ealing; it is also intended to be a catalyst for further out door art projects in particular the possibility of a biennial “summer of sculpture” at Gunnersbury where we hope to engage with artists from the two boroughs in support of the councils’ cultural strategies and national and international artists, to position Gunnersbury as a significant location for the display of and engagement with sculpture, installation and other appropriate works, sympathetically situated within the heritage landscape. If we are able to deliver one of the options for the small mansion – an arts education centre – then this piece will enhance the profile of the estate as a centre for cultural experience and education.
How were the stories selected?
Each of the figures bears words from a person directly affected by Humanitarian work: whether as a recipient or a provider. The Committee canvassed aid agencies to gather a range of perspectives on Humanitarian aid, which can help to bring this work to life for audiences.
Each of Landy’s figures responds to one of the fifteen stories, creating a series of illustrations around the text themes.
Can you take my story and add it to the collection?
Our ambition is to create a memorial repository that members of the public can contribute to through dedicated webpages as well as an annual event at Gunnersbury Park for International Humanitarian Aid Workers Day each August.
Is this linked to World Humanitarian Day?
The UK has a long tradition of public support for humanitarian crises around the world, backed by much-respected humanitarian agencies and humanitarian workers. The work is often extremely dangerous and people regularly give their lives helping others in need. Surprisingly, there is no dedicated site in the UK for relatives, friends and colleagues to gather and reflect on their loved ones' sacrifices and celebrate their work.
In August 2014, on World Humanitarian Day, a group of volunteers instigated the first event to celebrate and remember humanitarian workers. This event, a non-religious one for all faiths and none, took place outside Westminster Abbey at the Memorial for Innocent Victims of Conflict. It continues to be held there until a permanent site for the memorial has been secured. The event, which is preceded by Evensong at Westminster Abbey with special humanitarian prayers for those who wish to attend, has grown each year and demonstrates a need for a memorial that is specifically devoted to humanitarian aid workers.
Who is paying for this?
The Committee has raised all of the funds for the memorial from generous donations from NGOs that wish to mark the passing of their staff and volunteers as well as a special UK government fund that allocated LIBOR scandal fines to armed forces and emergency services charities and causes.
The Committee has allocated a fixed sum towards the ongoing maintenance and repair of the work for the years to come. Gunnersbury Park is not paying for the production or installation of the memorial, although it will insure the work when it is in place and will provide wheelchair-accessible pathways to the work from the main walking path.
Who will own the work?
The proposal we are discussing with the organising committee for the work is that it would be accessioned into Gunnersbury Park Museum's collection. Whilst the collection is curated, conserved and managed by Gunnersbury Museum and Park Development Trust, the ownership of the collection remains with Ealing and Hounslow councils.