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Beyond Ithaka 

The Gift of Life : 14th March 2020

On the 14th March “Beyond Ithaka” was unveiled at Trentham Estate to families and relatives of organ donors and members of the NHS staff. The event was filmed for the BBC OneShow.
Beyond Ithaka was commissioned in honour of NHS Organ Donation and is located in Trentham Gardens. The purpose of the sculpture is to:
– Promote awareness of organ donation,
– Help to start conversations that will breakdown the taboos around the subject
– Provide a peaceful place of contemplation and reflection away from graves and hospitals.

I rarely take on commission work, but when Trentham asked me if I’d consider teaming up with them and the NHS in the middle of a pandemic, there was no hesitation.

The stone ball and plinth at the base of the sculpture are from the original Trentham hall (demolished decades ago). The basic concept of the design is something beautiful growing from the remnants of the past in the heart shape of the NHS organ donation logo.

There are layers and layers of symbolism build into every aspect of the design and the more you look, the more you will find.

The title of the piece is “Beyond Ithaka”

Ithaka is a Greek island. In Greek mythology Ithaka is the home land of Odysseus from Homers Odyssey. Odysseus had great adventures of discovery, he fought cyclops, and Poseidon. He longed to return to his home land. Over time Ithaka has become a recognised metaphor for the destination of life’s journey.

If you’ve found your place in life you’ve found your Ithaka. So this sculpture hints at a world beyond life’s destination.

The average member of the public, would rather NOT confront the prospect of losing someone. As a consequence, they totally avoid the conversation. 

Therein lies the problem!

Not knowing how our loved ones felt about organ donation adds to the anxiety when faced with the decision. Nine out of ten relatives consent to organ donation when they have the comfort of knowing its what their loved ones wanted.  A single organ donor can dramatically improve or save multiple other lives and the relatives gain a positive legacy which provides pride and comfort as time passes. 

Throughout this project I have become friends with two of the specialist nurses who work in organ donation. They have taught me about the subject and the benefits. The experience they have gained is forged in a career delicately handling people dealing with trauma. They are consummate professionals and I proud to know them.