john davies
notes from a small curate

    Exploring the Past

    Blue Coat School 29/1/2003

    Luke 1 57-79

    If you were asked to design a piece of art to go on permanent display in Sefton Park, what would you come up with?

    That's a question recently faced by five artists in Liverpool, and last week I spent an hour at The Palm House in Sefton Park, looking at a display of the ideas they have proposed.

    The people running the competition want to know what the public think. Here are the ideas the artists came up with:
      A marble-lined wall, which glows in the dark;
      A cluster of trees, which glow in the dark;
      Two brightly-painted bus shelters;
      A poem in letters two metres high running around the park boundary
    The one I liked the best, though, was a laser installation, which projects to eight points around the park, the signatures of each of the eight people whose statues stand at the corners of the octagonal Palm House.

    I gave it my vote. And the reason I did that was something to do with EXPLORING THE PAST.

    It made me think: who are these people whose statues surround the Palm House and whose signatures will light up the park if those lasers are installed? Some of their names I don't even know. Here they are:
      Andre Le Notre, Captain James Cook, Geraldus Mercator, Carolus Linnaeus, Charles Darwin, Christopher Columbus, Prince Henry the Navigator and John Parkinson.
    They are explorers, discoverers, classifiers and cultivators of the natural world, some remembered, some long-forgotten.

    Thinking about them makes me wonder:
      Why are they the ones chosen to decorate the Palm House so proudly?
      What part have they played in the histories of Liverpool and the wider world?
      What can we learn from them, what might they have to teach us about our future?
      How can we celebrate their achievements here in Liverpool today?
    We'll find out next week which proposal won the competition, but I believe the laser idea was the most popular among the people who visited the display. And I hope it wins because it made me want to EXPLORE THE PAST.

    In today's bible reading the baby John was welcomed as a sign that God who promised great things for his people in the past, would now start bringing them about.

    If we look for them we can find many things around us in this city which are signs of the great work and the great promises of the past. Works of art, civic buildings, industrial architecture, parks, churches ...

    I think they're like gifts from God which help us to EXPLORE THE PAST so we can betterunderstand the present time, and learn about our future. They are signs which, when we appreciate what they are telling us, may also help us to celebrate our future.


    Find out about the eight statues at The Palm House website.

    Some information about Sefton Park.

    You can find out more about the Sefton Park Public Art competition at the Liverpool Housing Action Trust website.

    I wrote more about my visit to the Palm House in my blog of 17th January.