The vision for the Hartwood Pioneer Memorial had been brewing for a couple of years when, in September 2016, I read that Elder Holland had just dedicated the Light of the World Garden at Thanksgiving Point in Utah.  I curiously clicked through and what I discovered was a revelation View the Garden here   The garden is magnificent with 35 monument size bronze sculptures of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ set in a couple of acres of the Ashton’s entertainment complex.  The sculptor, Angela Johnson, had spent years creating this incredible masterpiece testifying of His Divine mission.

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Angela Johnson, Sculptor standing next to ‘Because of Love’

Before viewing this garden I had been struggling to conceive how to bring more impact to the message of our British memorial and suddenly the answer came.  We need to animate! Suck our stories off my original plan of flat, engraved walls and convert them into statues, stained glass and symbolic landscaping.  Art and nature have incredible power to make people stop, appreciate and think, and I needed to harness that to tell our story.

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“It is I.  Be not afraid.”

Over the next few weeks I began to draw and dream of how granite, bronze, glass and grass could be combined with these British stories of faith and sacrifice.

The result continues to excite me.

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But…now I had to convince sculptors and stained glass artists that this was a project worthy of their attention.

In October 2016 I emailed Angela Johnson and asked if she would be interested in duplicating a few of her Light of the World pieces for our memorial and taking on some new commissions of martyrs and British LDS history moments.   When I tentatively pressed ‘Send’ I didn’t know then I was tapping into a flood of support.  Angela replied,

 I watched your video and am very excited to talk to you about it. For quite a number of years now I have felt a deep desire to sculpt powerful, emotion evoking tributes to the martyrs. The divine callings they had to bring forth the word of God and their unswerving devotion, which cost them their lives, needs to be rightly honored and remembered.

Since that first exchange we have emailed and SKYPed to and fro sharing our thoughts, frustrations and hopes of how to make the vision a reality.   Once she wrote,

I love magnificent visions especially those that bring souls to Christ! This vision that you’ve shared with me is so exciting.

Last month, to further cement her commitment to the project, Angela offered to donate a bronze bust so visitors could get a sense of the quality and impact of these statues and help us to speed up the process of getting things off the ground.

This week that statue arrived in England

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To see what is inside and the story behind it, you’ll have to wait until the next post.