Plans have been submitted to build a permanent Nelson Mandela memorial in Liverpool’s Princes Park.
If approved, a new bridge and an art installation will be developed in the Toxteth space to “celebrate and commemorate Mandela’s outstanding achievements globally and his resonance for the people of L8”.
The art installation, which would be erected around the clearing of the Grade II*-listed park’s island, would feature 32 cylindrical sculptures referencing the 16 oil barrels Mandela had cut in half to form planters for his garden at Pollsmoor Prison.
According to a document put forward with the plans, they’d be arranged to suggest an amphitheatre or outdoor classroom and would face a limestone roofed ‘pavilion’.
Applicant Mandela8 – a group of local activists campaigning for a Liverpudlian Mandela memorial – has worked with the Contemporary Art Society to choose artists capable of understanding the “historically-valuable site” and, in turn, invited London-based landscape, art and architecture practice Wayward to work on the proposal.
It’s proposed that each cylinder in the installation would be engraved with extracts from Mandela’s writings, which would be chosen by a working group of “diverse community voices” and would reflect Mandela’s relevance for Liverpool today.
The planning application suggests that, once complete, the seating and pavilion would be a “programmable space, which reflects the values of education and enlightenment exemplified by Mandela and his fellow prisoners”.
Meanwhile a new bridge is being lined up to connect the park’s mainland with the island as part of the project, with a new path offering a tour of the island as well as entrance points to the centrepiece of the memorial.
A statement submitted within the plans, which says the memorial has been designed to work with Liverpool City Council’s restoration programme for Prince’s Park’s island, explains: “Placing the memorial on an island, with all of the connotations of Robben Island, makes for a potent setting.
“Recreating Mandela’s ‘classroom’ configuration with an amphitheatre also makes it possible to offer up the space as a community amenity that can be programmed and emotionally owned by local people.
“Existing users, including the fishermen, have been considered to ensure the designs are inclusive and reflect the needs of the local community.”
YM Liverpool previously reported that Mandela8 has received backing from the global organisation UNI Global Union for the project.