The photo in this post was taken with my Iphone at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. The statue and setting are part of a Gold medal winning exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Show 2012. It was called "World Without Torture". It depicts something essential for us all to hear, arising from the Quaker concern for those who are imprisoned, tortured and whose humanity and freedom are taken away.
I have deep and long held respect for the Quaker tradition and that powerful category of thought which they describe as "concern". Not mere unease, anxiety or even compassion; but faithfulness in resistance, imagination and empathy in prayer, and sensitive moral antennae which detect actions and movements and sounds which threaten human flourishing, persistent in finding ways of protest and refusal.
The statue of a woman releasing a dove, and the chain link fence depicting the flight of the dove to freedom, are situated in the corner of the garden at Woodbrooke. Around 7.30am I came across this and was deeply moved. The lovely form of a woman kneeling, eyes fixed on the dove in her hands with the intensity of determined love, contrasts tragically with the brutal functionality of factory made concrete fence posts. Have you ever examined one of those posts? Each one is a work of art, a triumph in design. Made of that so useful mixture of sand, lime and pebbles; shaped to carry razor or barbed wire on the outward facing angled top; drilled at nine inch intervals to thread steel wire, which in turn supports and attaches the chain link fence, a marriage made in Hell for those whom it is fully intended to confine.
And kneeling beside these square, straight-edged concrete prison pillars, a figure shaped in soft curving lines, holding a dove. The silhouette of the dove taking flight, is made visible to the imagination by cutting and re-shaping the chain links, a technique I found to be a startling example of "concern" contradicting, subverting, re-conceiving the worldview implied by concrete and steel fashioned to human misery.
You can read a brief article about this over here