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Peace Garden ‘Unity’ sculpture officially opened in Hitchin

05 July 2022
Chris Kell with the Unity sculpture
Chris Kell from Hitchin Quaker Meeting speaking at the official opening

A stainless steel sculpture called Unity, partly funded by the council, was officially opened at Hitchin Quaker Meeting’s Peace Garden on Saturday, 2 July, by North Herts Council’s Chair Cllr Sam North.

The sculpture project began in 2018 as an idea of two sixth form students at Hitchin Boys’ School – Rohan Gidha and Noel Strickland – after the art department was asked if they could design something for the Quaker burial ground which would convey a message of peace, be eye-catching enough to go at the front of the garden, and multi-faith in nature. 

Sculptor Diane Maclean
Sculptor Diane Maclean at the event

Having found that the design could not be created in wood, as it wouldn’t be strong or durable enough, the Hitchin Quakers were inspired by some of Diane Maclean’s metal artwork, who is based locally in St Albans. Diane worked with John Proctor of Birch Engineering who made the loops, also based in Hertfordshire.

Coming in at £10,000, North Herts Council's Hitchin Committee agreed to give £2,000 to the project, and an amazing £5,000 (plus £1,000 gift aid) was crowdfunded in four weeks by the local community. The final £2,000 was raised through personal donations from Hitchin Quakers.

Councillor Ian Albert, Chair of Hitchin Committee, said: "I am delighted to see this wonderful new sculpture unveiled right in the centre of our town, that the council helped to fund. Do take the opportunity to go and see it and spend some time in the lovely Peace Garden at Friends' Meeting House. Thanks go to my colleague, Councillor Keith Hoskins, for his suggestion of crowdfunding the sculpture, and the many local donors who so quickly stepped up to support this initiative.”

Chris Kell, Peace Garden Convenor at Hitchin Quaker Meeting, said: “The brushed steel of the sculpture catches the light. The two loops have been made separately but look intertwined. It looks quite different from different angles – parallel loops one way, intertwined another way and just one loop from another direction. We couldn’t have come up with a more creative definition of unity – that which is separate but comes together in harmony.”

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