Commission: Opposing War Memorial, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, 2018/20

In 2018 Kate was chosen to design an Opposing War Memorial for Conscientious Objectors to be installed in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

The proposed design was created through in depth research and consultation with specialist groups, including the CO Memorial Steering Group, expert historians,Adult Learners (WEA) studying Conscientious Objection, local and regional archives and input from a present day international CO.

The Design Concept
The proposed design is inspired by an incident in the history of resistance to conscription during the First World War. In April 1916 the No-Conscription Fellowship, NCF, held an emergency assembly in London in support of Conscientious Objectors and war resisters. An aggressive crowd gathered outside threatening to break in and violently disrupt the meeting. The chairman of the convention asked the 2000 strong audience to show their support for the speakers silently so that their cheers would not further anger the crowd outside.

‘No-one who was present will forget the effect of this’; and the distinguished speakerswere greeted with thousands of fluttering handkerchiefs, making the soft sound of arising and falling breeze.’-Peace Pledge Union website.

Inspired by the above quote, Kate has designed the Opposing Memorial to include a bronze Handkerchief Tree sculpture installed within a reflection space with seating.

Embroidered Handkerchiefs
Embroidered war handkerchiefs were historically used to create visual records of moments in history and narratives. The Opposing War Memorial sculpture will be a bronze ‘Handkerchief Tree’ adorned with embroidered handkerchiefs cast in bronze. These handkerchiefs are a personal and accessible way to convey the history and on going story of Conscientious Objection. Each embroidered handkerchief will represent an aspect of Conscientious Objection to convey the broad spectrum and history of conscientious objection and opposition to war. The handkerchief embroidery will include names of men and women war resisters who were imprisoned, and emblems of international organisations dedicated to conscientious objection, peace building and conflict resolution in ascending time order with First World War COs on lower branches and some near the top left blank to suggest future peacemakers.

Handkerchief Tree/Dove Tree
Davidia involucratais called the Handkerchief Tree as this living tree’s white bracts flutter like ‘thousands’ of white handkerchiefs in a gentle breeze, reminiscent of the 1916 No-Conscription Fellowship (NCF) assembly audience and their thousands of fluttering white handkerchiefs. The tree is also known as the Dove Tree or Peace Tree because of a 15th Century woman who bought peace between two warlords and warring tribes in China.

A deciduous tree, it produces these white bracts (handkerchiefs) and flowers in May when international Conscientious Objection Day is celebrated.