Image above: Visualisation of the sculpture in Gunnersbury Park
Hounslow Council receives planning application for humanitarian aid memorial
Hounslow Council has received a planning application for the installation of a humanitarian aid memorial in Gunnersbury Park. The proposed memorial would consist of a circle of 15 human-scale figures, seven metres in diameter, positioned to the south east of the Round Pond.
The figures, intended to symbolise unity and solidarity, would feature text and images on their surfaces, depicting the narrative of humanitarian aid efforts and honouring the contributions of aid workers worldwide. To deter vandalism, the figures would be coated with a clear protective finish.
A new pathway leading from the existing pedestrian footpath to the centre of the memorial is part of the proposal. Additionally, a wooden bench is planned for the entrance of the pathway, offering seating for visitors. The bench would be accompanied by a brass plaque containing information about the memorial’s purpose, as well as a QR code linking to webpages hosted by Gunnersbury Park.
Collaborating with the organising committee and the Contemporary Arts Society Consultancy (CAS*C), the park’s managing trust is spearheading the initiative to establish the first dedicated humanitarian aid memorial.
Renowned artist Michael Landy, associated with the Young British Artists movement of the late eighties, has designed the memorial. Landy, known for his notable works such as Breakdown (2001) and Acts of Kindness (2011), was commissioned by Art on the Underground.
In addition to serving as a commemorative site, the memorial could be used as an educational site for local schools, complementing the existing museum education service.
Image above: The sculpture “looked like gingerbread men” according to critics of previous proposals
Memorial, “like gingerbread men” has been turned down elsewhere
Previous proposals for the sculpture, including one for Kenwood estate and another for a location in Manchester, were ultimately rejected on aesthetic grounds.
When the sculpture was under consideration in Kenwood, Ellen Solomans, who represents the Vale of Health Society on the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee said she felt the designs “looked like gingerbread men”.
Others warned it would attract vandalism, with one member stating he believed the “instinct would be for someone to reach for a felt-tip pen and draw a face on them, and then lower down to draw something not so respectful”.
Others complained that the sculpture represented a man-made structure on a site which has traditionally been a natural area.
Heath and Hampstead Society’s Thomas Radice said:
“We look very critically on any impacts development might have on the Heath and we feel this memorial would set important precedents. We wish to be constructive – nobody questions that this is a worthy cause – but we do suggest they should try and find another site.”
For more details of the appplication you can find the planning application documents on Hounslow’s website – search for planning application P/2024/0324.