This month, Winchester Cathedral is hosting a nationally touring art installation, which has been designed to provide people with an opportunity to personally reflect on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as allow people to look to the future with hope.

“The Leaves of the Trees” installation is visiting towns and cities around the country and will be available to view at Winchester Cathedral from the 6th of October. Created by Sculptor Peter Walker, it has been designed to honour those who have passed away during the pandemic, but also to allow everyone to take a moment and contemplate their own experiences and to think about loved ones.

The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester said, ‘We are delighted to welcome this poignant installation by Peter Walker to Winchester Cathedral. I’m hoping that these fallen leaves will be a rich source of reflection, giving many the opportunity for a clearer view and a new perspective. With many of us feeling ‘stripped back’ and aware of what has been lost in the past year, the installation will allow people to both honour those lost to the pandemic and look forward with a sense of togetherness and hope”.

The installation is made up of 5000 steel leaves, with each leaf stamped with the word HOPE.  These leaves will then be laid out on the floor of the Cathedral, creating a beautiful impression of autumn leaves fallen from the trees. Appearing as though naturally scattered by the wind, the leaves symbolise the past, that which has transpired. However, the leaf is not only emblematic of the past but also signifies hope for the future and the shape of a sycamore maple leaf has been chosen because it symbolises strength, protection, and eternity, as well as clarity.

“Steel has been chosen as the material for the leaves, to remind us of our resilience and collective strength. As the artwork tours around the country the steel will age, rust and change colour, just as the leaves of trees do when they fall each year. However, in nature, fallen leaves are essential to prepare the planet for spring and new growth. It is hoped that the simplicity and beauty of the installation will give people the chance to pause and contemplate on their own experience and also the wider situation that we find ourselves in” said Peter Walker, Sculptor.

As well as viewing the installation, visitors will also have the opportunity to write their own thoughts and private messages to loved ones or simply their reflections and prayers at this time, on a paper leaf.

The installation can be seen at the Cathedral between Wednesday 6th October and Tuesday 2nd November and is free to view as part of the admission fee.

The project is supported by the Guild of Health and St Raphael, and will be touring to other locations including St Albans Cathedral and Peterborough Cathedral for the remainder of 2021.