Commission: Opposing War Memorial, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, 2018/20

Conscientious Objectors Memorial Sculpture

In 2018 Kate was chosen to design a Conscientious Objectors Memorial Sculpture to be installed in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. The memorial is currently seeking funds and donations are gratefully received at

The proposed design was created through in depth research and consultation with specialist groups. These included: the CO Memorial Steering Group, expert historians, Adult Learners (WEA) studying Conscientious Objection, local and regional archives and input from a present day international CO.

The Sculpture Design Concept

The proposed design for the Conscientious Objectors Sculpture Memorial is inspired by an incident in the history of resistance to conscription.  During the First World War, in April 1916 the No-Conscription Fellowship, NCF, held an emergency assembly in London. It was held in support of Conscientious Objectors and war resisters. An aggressive crowd gathered outside threatening to break in and violently disrupt the meeting. The chairman of the convention asked the 2000 strong audience to show their support for the speakers silently. So their cheers would not further anger the hostile crowd outside.

‘No-one who was present will forget the effect of this’; and the distinguished speakers were greeted with thousands of fluttering handkerchiefs, making the soft sound of arising and falling breeze.’-Peace Pledge Union.

Inspired by the above quote, Kate has designed the Conscientious Objectors Memorial to include a bronze Handkerchief Tree sculpture installed within a reflection space with seating.

Embroidered Handkerchiefs

Embroidered war handkerchiefs were historically used to create visual records of moments in history. The Opposing War Memorial sculpture will include a bronze ‘Handkerchief Tree’. It will be adorned with embroidered handkerchiefs cast in bronze. These handkerchiefs are a personal and accessible way to convey the history and on going story of Conscientious Objection. Each embroidered handkerchief will represent an aspect of Conscientious Objection to convey the broad spectrum and history of Conscientious Objectors and opposition to war. The handkerchief embroidery will include names of men and women war resisters who were imprisoned. They will sit alongside emblems of international organisations dedicated to conscientious objection, peace building and conflict resolution. They will be placed in ascending time order with First World War COs on lower branches. Some handkerchiefs near the top of the memorial tree will be left blank to suggest future peacemakers.

Memorial Handkerchief Tree/Dove Tree

Davidia involucrata is also known as the Handkerchief Tree, as this living tree’s white bracts flutter like ‘thousands’ of white handkerchiefs in a gentle breeze. This is reminiscent of the 1916 No-Conscription Fellowship (NCF) assembly audience and their thousands of fluttering white handkerchiefs. The tree is also known as the Dove Tree or Peace Tree because of a 15th Century woman, who bought peace to two warlords and warring tribes in China.

A deciduous tree, it produces these white bracts (handkerchiefs) and flowers in May when international Conscientious Objection Day is celebrated.