Peckford’s sculpture of the Danger Tree may soon
be reproduced in bronze.
By Pamela Gill
A cardboard sculpture crafted by a first-year visual arts
student may soon be reproduced in bronze as a monument to
the Danger Tree.
Linda Peckford, who will begin her second year of the visual
arts program at Grenfell this September, made the cardboard
sculpture based on the Danger Tree – the only tree that
stood between the front lines during the Battle of Beaumont
Hamel in the First World War.
As do many Newfoundlanders, Ms. Peckford has a personal connection
with the battle; her father-in-law’s best friend was
one of the few that lived to answer roll call in the morning
after the battle and he described to her what it was like
to be there that day.
“I wanted to make a tree – a danger tree –
to symbolize two significant losses in Newfoundland and Labrador
history: the 700 sons we lost (in the battle), and the closure
of the cod fishery,” explained the native of Change
Islands. “Look at what we’ve done to our resources.
Those men fought for a better way of life for all of us. And
it’s still going on – war and the annihilation
The cardboard sculpture, which stands just two feet high,
depicts a tree covered in a dragnet. On the base of the monument
are bodies of men interspersed with the salt dried cod fish,
lying heads and tails. That’s how Ms. Peckford visualized
the bodies in the field; lying heads and tails like fish drying
on the flakes. It symbolizes the fishermen that left their
boats and went to war and died for empty causes.
Visual arts instructor Barb Hunt was so impressed that she
decided to show the work to President Axel Meisen. Ms. Peckford
couldn’t believe the news when Ms. Hunt called her one
morning – the president was considering having the sculpture
cast in bronze, with the chance of reproducing several for
each of Memorial's campuses.
“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “Barb Hunt
had the foresight to recommend it to the president. I give
full credit to her for this project. She’s the most
amazing teacher – she pulls things out of me that I
never knew was there. She makes us think and feel and look
at thing a hundred different ways – just amazing how
she supports and encourages her students to believe in themselves.
I only regret that I never met her years ago; I would have
had my degree long before now.
“The fact that the president is considering my work
for a larger reproduction is a testament to Memorial’s
belief in its students,” added Ms. Peckford, who also
happened to be awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador
this year for her contribution to the arts in this province
(starting a provincial Rug Hooking Guild and school) and for
the work she’s accomplished in her community.
“Memorial really values its students,”she said.
“I mean, this is a first-year project produced by a
first-year student. I didn't expect this.”