Contemporary Heritage Curator’s Blog: Memory Garden

The idea for Memory Garden, a specially commissioned one day event for the launch, grew out of Geraldine’s visits to Towneley, experiencing how visitors use the park and hall, and through our conversations as ideas for Not Forgotten developed.  Memory Garden was a natural progression. Simplicity was key, we wanted to emphasise the connection between John and Mary Towneley’s family, who inspired Not Forgotten, and the visitor. Geraldine spoke beautifully of this connection and I hope this will have been captured on the documentary film which will be screened in the Hall from October.
Visitors were invited to create a Memory Garden, to take a blackboard plant marker and write the name of someone who they will never see again, it may be someone who had passed away or someone who had touched their life in someway but their paths no longer cross.
They could then walk through the woodland or round the hall and choose a cot, lavender for female and rosemary for male, and plant their marker for the day in memory of that person.
Each cot represents one of John & Mary’s children and the growing herbs are a living memorial to each child, and too many more people now. A colleague of mine, who worked at the event, said she hadn’t prepared herself for how emotional MemoryGardenwas going to be because as people took a blackboard marker they started to share stories with her about the person they were remembering. 
Trees feature in Geraldine’s work and the symbolism is very important to her and never more so than in Not Forgotten. The tree represents their family tree and the cycle of life. The family portrait which Geraldine drew inspiration from was painted in 1601 and in 2010 the cycle of life continues. Not Forgotten is doing what we hoped, it is causing people to pause and consider this handsome building and its grounds for the family home it once was, a home, like any other, that experienced life, loss, love, sadness and joy.

“…we saw the painting inside that sparked it off. It was very good. Loved it (the bed)’s nice symbolism. I like the fact that you can go right up to it and touch it. We haven’t had time to see as much as we want to so maybe another visit, perhaps tomorrow.” Visitor comment



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