New for 2020: Two Sculptures and a Labyrinth - in the newly created Jebb Garden

Two sculptures and a Labyrinth have recently been added to the trail in Cremorne Gardens.  'The Sisters' * by Nick Eames, 'Refuge' * by John Merrill and the Labyrinth by Sculpturelogic and Orchardfield * have been created as part of the 'Children Displaced by Conflict' project which commemorates the founding of the Save the Children Fund in 1919 by Ellesmere born sisters, Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton.

"Every war is a war against children!" - Eglantyne Jebb 1919

This two year Heritage Lottery and Arts Council funded project began in 2018 with a series of school and community inspirational workshops. A team of volunteers were recruited and a number of local organisations became partners in the project. The high level of community engagement helped to raise awareness of the significant achievements of these two local women whose legacy lives on.    

Special from ESI for REFUGEE WEEK, June 15th-21st: From our 'Children Displaced by Conflict' project, we feature below Dame Stephanie Shirley's speech about her traumatic experience as a child refugee from Nazi Europe in 1939.

Click Here to read - Dame Stephanie Shirley's Speech 


About Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative

How did it begin?

In 2006 Ellesmere in Shropshire was chosen as the only UK partner for an ambitious international touring exhibition of sculpture in the landscape. The exhibition 'Extramuros' was launched in Ellesmere in March 2007 and toured Spain and Portugal until the summer of 2008.

What happened next?

Following 'Extramuros', a group of volunteers set up the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative to develop the vision of creating a sculpture in the landscape trail through a series of events and projects featuring the work of international contemporary artists. These artists would, where possible, use materials from the local environment and their works would be placed around the town to form the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail. Since 2009 there have been a series of three annual symposia plus four other individual sculpture projects. 

2009 Symposium

2009 saw the start of a three year programme of ‘Sculpture in the Landscape’ symposia and exhibitions which pioneered a unique approach to creating the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail.


International and UK artists are being invited, each year, to a Symposium where they will create sculptures from materials peculiar to a particular locality around the town and in response to the specific landscape and heritage. The pieces from each year's symposia then form the basis of the trail around Ellesmere.


The first two-week symposium, in August 2009, took place in a local quarry. Six international sculptors individually selected and worked on glacial boulders which were excavated from the quarry. These stones, known as erratics, were dragged by glaciers in the last Ice Age from Scotland, northern England and Wales, were of slate, granite and sandstone. The artists’ final sculptures were strongly influenced by the history and material of the stones, and also by the exhibition location on the glacial moraine hills of Castlefields, overlooking the Mere.

2010 Symposium

The 2010 two week international sculpture symposium was based at the historic British Waterways Maintenance Yard on the canal at Ellesmere.


The original canal workshops from the days of Thomas Telford were used in the creation of wood and metal sculptures which reflected the heritage of the Ellesmere canal building era.


Some of the participating artists were blacksmiths and they breathed life back into the workshops and forge to produce original metal sculptures. Others used wood reclaimed from old lock gates or locally felled trees to create their pieces.


Nine international artists participated in this symposium, including one student scholarship award. “The student Scholarship is a terrific opportunity for an artist at the early stage of their career” said Ben Carpenter, from Wolverhampton University “they learn from highly established artists from all over the world.”


Their sculptures were installed alongside the Llangollen Canal to link with six pieces created for the Castlefields site during the 2009 symposium as part of the Ellesmere Sculpture in the Landscape Trail. The trail leads visitors through the distinctive glacial landscape of the Mere with its rolling meadowland, along the tree-lined towpath of the canal to the canal wharf near the centre of the town.



2011 Symposium

Four sculptors were selected to produce sculpture pieces using fallen and standing wood that was located in or near the Cremorne Gardens at the Mere at Ellesmere. To achieve this ESI worked closely with the Shropshire Council Mere Management team and Conservation Officers to ensure public safety and care of the habitat. The completed pieces were added to the existing Sculpture in the Landscape Trail around the town. The sculptures are made in direct response to the environment into which they are placed - a continuing unique theme of the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail.


The four pieces were:

(click on sculpture name for more detail)


'Stairway to Haven'  by Rumen Dimitrov. Made from a standing beech tree stump. This piece was extremely popular but unfortunately it was removed in 2019 for reasons of safety.


'SShhh'  by John Merrill. This was originally made from a lime tree felled in nearby Castlefields, and designed with the help of local school children. In 2017 this very popular sculpture had to be removed for safety reasons. However, following a successful local fund raising campaign, John Merrill was engaged to produce a new Sshhh from longer lasting oak and this was installed in its original position, now known as Sshhh corner, in April 2019.


'Conker chair'  by David Lloyd. This was made from a felled horse chestnut tree from the Cremorne gardens. This piece deteriorated and eventually rotted into the ground after about five years.


'Secure'  by Nick Horrigan. Made from steel and oak and designed in the form of a dropping seed with, at its kernal, a hollowed space which allows the viewer to focus on an iconic view of Ellesmere Church across the Mere.



Sshhh by John Merrill forms part of the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail around the Mere. John, who is based in North Wales, creates all his work by hand using a combination of traditional and modern carving and joinery techniques. 

He carved his original piece from a Lime tree felled in Castlefields but, in 2017, when the sculpture had deteriorated it had to be removed. However, in 2019, following a successful local fund raising campaign, John re-created Sshhh in oak. Due to its popularity with visitors and local people this area of the gardens has become widely known as Sshhh corner - a favourite spot for photographs.

Community participation is key to John’s work and, for the original sculpture in 2011 he involved local school children from Ellesmere Primary School to help form the design of his sculpture.  John worked with the children at the Mere sharing inspiration and ideas and this led to him sculpting of the word, 'Sshhh,'  to reflect the peace and quiet of the beech avenue at the far end of Cremorne Gardens. 

Stairway to Haven

Rumen Dimitrov, from Bulgaria, came to Ellesmere in July to start the 2011 phase of the Sculpture Trail in Cremorne Gardens. 

A beech stump was selected and it took him just five days, using a chainsaw, to complete the work. Rumen cut steps out of the roots on the Mere side of the tree and removed a rectangular block of wood to create steps at the rear. The hollow that was created inside the trunk provided an elevated vantage point overlooking the Mere. 

Rumen called the piece 'Stairway to Haven' after his favourite band Led Zeppelin's song. 

Unfortunately, after a number of years, this popular, child friendly sculpture had to be removed for safety reasons and the remains of the tree was felled. However, it now has a new life providing a valuable wildlife habitat in Cremorne Gardens. 



Conker Chair


Sculptor David Lloyd from Carmarthan, mid Wales, took his inspiration from the Conker, the fruit of the Horse Chestnut, and created a work which resembled an opened shell with the Conker inside. Appropriately, the wood he used came from a Horse Chestnut tree which had grown and been felled  in the Cremorne Gardens. 


David worked the wood to expose the grain and especially the knots of branches which he used for the 'spikes' of the fruit and also for the Conker. The outer surface of the sculpture was scorched black for contrast and to help preserve it. The sculpture rested on the Chestnut stump to form an interesting seat to look out across the Mere. 


This piece was the third in the series of sculptures for this part of the sculpture trail. It was commissioned by Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative with the help from the Shropshire Council's Mere Park managers.


David worked on the sculpture in the vicinity of the Cremorne Gardens at the end of November and the beginning of December 2011. Over the next five years the sculpture rotted into the surrounding ground and is now no longer visible.



Extramuros Sculptures

Extramuros, a Spanish word that literally translated means ‘art outside walls’, was an exposition in 2007 where international artists from Spain, Portugal and Britain were commissioned to create sculpture pieces relating to their local landscape. Ellesmere in Shropshire was chosen as the sole UK venue and all the sculptures were exhibited near the Mere in Cremorne Gardens and the Castlefields area. They then travelled to Portugal and Spain the same year. 

Three pieces of the original Extramuros exhibition were made specifically for Ellesmere and in 2008 when the sculptures were returned to the town they were sited at Ellesmere Primary School. In 2012 the three sculptures, Bindweed, Ellesmere Pillar and Ellesmere Chronicle,  were returned to Cremorne Gardens to join the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail.


The Ellesmere Sculpture Trail has been developed over the past 10 years. It is made up of sculptures set in the unique and beautiful landscape of Ellesmere in North Shropshire. The pieces are created by international contemporary artists, commissioned by the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative (ESi), and are made specifically in response to the location.

For each phase of the trail pieces were made using local stone and wood, wherever possible,  to reflect the history and heritage of the landscape around Ellesmere.  

Sculpture, a three dimensional art form sits well in outdoor locations, especially where there are contrasting shapes and textures in the landscape. With its particular form and material, an individual sculpture can complement or contrast with its location. Sculpture in the landscape can change the experience of a familiar setting, give a little known area of natural beauty a wider profile and bring art to a new audience.

The trail provides visitors with a free and gentle tour of Ellesmere (largely accessible by wheelchair and pushchair) taking in the uniquely attractive settings of the Mere, the historic Castlefields and canal.


See the Trail Map page for details of where to find the sculptures.

The Ellesmere Sculpture Trail is made up of sculptures set in the unique and beautiful landscape of Ellesmere in North Shropshire. The pieces are created by international contemporary artists, commissioned by the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative (ESi), and are made specifically in response to the location.

As seen in the publication
'Sculpture Parks and Trails
of Britain and Ireland'
2nd edition
ISBN 978-1-4081-6475-4

For each phase of the trail pieces are made using local materials and reflect the history and heritage of the landscape around Ellesmere. These sculptures are then added to the Ellesmere Sculpture Trail.
The trail provides visitors with a free and gentle tour of Ellesmere (mostly accessible by wheelchair and pushchair) taking in the uniquely attractive settings of the mere, the historic castle fields and canal.
See the Trail Map page for details of where to find the sculptures.