2018-2021 Eglantyne Jebb Project
Children Displaced by Conflict; the heritage of Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children
Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative received Heritage Lottery and Arts Council England grant funding for this project to commemorate the centenary of the international aid charity, Save the Children founded by Ellesmere sisters, Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton.
In May 1919 the sisters organised a public meeting in the Royal Albert Hall, London as a response to the plight of displaced and suffering children across Central Europe after the First World War. A few days before the meeting, Eglantyne had been arrested and fined for handing out leaflets in Trafalgar Square. These leaflets featured a picture of an emaciated German child.
Through the project, Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative, aimed to commemorate the centenary of the charity's launch and to celebrate the lasting heritage of two remarkable women whose legacy continues to this day. It would also aim to highlight the work of Save the Children around the world and demonstrate how the organisation continues to save many thousands of children's lives 100 years after it was established by these two sisters from Shropshire.
The project began in December 2018 with a series of community and school workshops, involving seven local schools, and a research programme. Using art and stories, the workshop participants were asked to imagine living as a refugee, alone and frightened, after being forced to leave their home.
The research and products of the workshops were used to inform and inspire the concept and design of a landmark sculptural installation as a testament to the sisters' achievements as compassionate, visionary pioneers. Their legacy of supporting countless displaced child refugees continues to be just as significant to this day.
By 2020 a concept to create a Jebb Garden was developed. This garden would be situated within Cremorne Gardens near the Mere in Ellesmere. It would include two sculptures, 'Sisters', representing Eglantyne and Dorothy, by Nick Eames, and 'Refuge' by John Merrill; this sculpture would be set in a grass and stone labyrinth to symbolise the perilous journeys taken by child refugees.
An extremely important aspect of the project has been the high level of volunteer, partner and community engagement and support. This has helped the project to achieve its aims of raising awareness and creating a lasting legacy.