Message of hope on the floor of Peterborough Cathedral

A unique, moving memorial sculpture - made up of 5,000 steel leaves - has been placed in Peterborough Cathedral to encourage visitors to pause and reflect following another year constrained by the Covid pandemic.

By Brad Barnes
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 5:03 am
Leaves of the Trees by Peter Walker at Peterborough Cathedral.
Photo: Graham Williams
Leaves of the Trees by Peter Walker at Peterborough Cathedral. Photo: Graham Williams

‘The Leaves of the Trees’ exhibition - on display to the public during normal Cathedral opening times - has been designed by the sculptor Peter Walker whose ‘One Small Step’ artwork representing the moon’s surface, and ‘The Angels are Coming’ sound and light show (by Luxmuralis of which Peter is part), have also thrilled audiences at the Cathedral this year.

The installation’s 5,000 steel leaves have the word ‘hope’ imprinted upon each of them. They create the impression of autumn leaves fallen from the trees, appearing as if naturally scattered by the wind.

This is a reflective memorial, designed to provide a focus and a ‘moment out’ as our lives become busier again, to think about those we have lost but also our own personal journeys through the past 18 months.

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Peter Walker said: “The leaves symbolise the past but also hope for the future. The sycamore maple leaves symbolise strength, protection, eternity and clarity. I chose steel because it reminds us of our resilience and collective strength.”

The display will be on show on the steps in front of the high altar, at the east end of the Cathedral, until January 14.

Peter added: “The artwork will tour around the country and the steel will age, rust and change colour just as the leaves of trees do when they fall each year as part of the cycle of life that leads to the spring and new growth. The overall impression we want to give is one of hope.”

The exhibition contains the Christian message about how spirituality seeks glimmers of hope and love during life’s journey. It highlights the theme that there is no darkness or pain that cannot be healed by God. The decision to place the exhibition in front of the building’s high altar underlines this.

Visitors can purchase a leaf, in a special presentation box and with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, from the Cathedral shop in the north aisle and also from its online shop. Each Hope leaf is a bespoke and individual sculpture in its own right.

The Leaves of the Trees project is supported by The Guild of Health & St Raphael.