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July 22, 2004
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Sculpture may be cast in bronze

Linda Peckford’s sculpture of the Danger Tree
Linda 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 of resources.”

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.”


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Lind Peckford's sculpture of the Danger Tree

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Next issue: August 12, 2004

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