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Immersive ‘Illuminated Arboretum’ light trail to feature community-led art installations

As part of the returning spectacular winter light trail at the National Memorial Arboretum, three new community-led art installations will be showcased as part of the Arboretum’s ‘Guiding Lights’ project. From Thursday 7 to Saturday 23 December, visitors to Illuminated Arboretum can explore the new installations along the spectacular, mile-long outdoor trail of light, colour, and sound around the gardens, woodlands and memorials at the Nation’s year-round place to Remember.

Flowers of Remembrance

Visitors to the 150-acre Arboretum can marvel at the ‘Flowers of Remembrance’, a new participatory art installation that has been crafted in collaboration with 500 students from local schools. During workshops held in November, students discovered more about flowers associated with Remembrance around the world. Using recycled materials, students have crafted a beautiful garden ‘planted’ with different flowers that symbolise Remembrance, commemorating and honouring individuals who have left their mark on communities. The installation is accompanied by poetry written by Dan Simpson, the Arboretum’s Poet-in-Residence. This collective participatory art piece will be showcased as part of this year’s Illuminated Arboretum and will remain open into the New Year.

Archway of Hope

An illuminated participatory willow art project, ‘Archway of Hope’ will be on display throughout Illuminated Arboretum and into the New Year. Visitors can experience the connection between nature and reflection as they engage with the luminous, indoor willow arch, enhanced by willow insects and animals that reflect the Arboretum’s diverse wildlife. The artworks have been crafted in collaboration with three local community collectives under the guidance of Willow Artist Nita Rao.

Windrush Path of Illumination

Visitors can experience a new outdoor multisensory installation which pays tribute to the ‘Windrush Generation’, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush on UK shores. Crafted by Birmingham community groups, Nechells Outreach Centre and Pannel Croft Village, the illuminated walkway shares visual images that reflect the journey of those who embarked on this historical journey to Britain. The outdoor installation is accompanied by a soundtrack of newly commissioned songs by Ken Burton ‘Across the Seas’ and ‘We Honour You’, sung by the Arboretum’s associate partner Black Voices and local choirs.

“As part of our ‘Guiding Lights’ project, we have worked with over 650 people from school and community groups, aged from 5 to 95 years old, to weave together arts, culture, history, reflection and Remembrance,” said Rachel Smith, Head of Participation and Learning at the National Memorial Arboretum. “Available for visitors to explore throughout our normal opening hours and as part of Illuminated Arboretum, the three new installations reflect our commitment to passing the baton of Remembrance to future generations.”

This year’s Illuminated Arboretum light trail offers a swathe of new installations to accompany some old favourites, with visitors once again invited to immerse themselves in a whole range of magical illuminated areas and poignant and thought-provoking installations.

“In what has become an annual highlight of the festive season across the region, Illuminated Arboretum is a must-do experience for visitors of all ages,” said Neill Martin-Hoare, Head of Events at the National Memorial Arboretum. “Our 2023 event features a new route with a whole range of multisensory installations to create a truly magical experience for visitors as they discover different illuminated areas of the 150-acres of gardens and woodlands.”

Tickets cost £24 per adult and £14 for children, with under 5s and carers admitted free of charge. To learn more about Illuminated Arboretum and to book tickets, please visit: https://www.thenma.org.uk/what’s-on/events/illuminated-arboretum

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