About the Beacon of Hope project
The Beacon of Hope was conceived in 1997 as Manchester's answer to the threat of HIV/AIDS. It was designed by Warren Chapman and Jess Byrne-Daniels, who won a design competition.
The design consists of a series of elements combining together the existing 'Tree of Life' with the 'Beacon of Hope' light sculpture. They describe a metaphorical journey through life, providing the opportunity for remembrance, contemplation and celebration.
The Tree of Life
The 'Tree of Life', was planted on World AIDS Day 1993, and provides the starting point of the metaphorical journey.
The existing tree has had to withstand many traumas through its own life and bears the scars with pride. It is often used as a place to spread ashes and to leave floral tributes, it is also envisaged as a quiet place for contemplation.
The area around the tree was subtly upgraded during the building work around the Beacon, to provide evening uplighting, an attractive hard surface around the tree in the same shape as the Beacon's podium, informal seating and creating a visual connection with the Beacon.
Three plinths are placed between the Tree of Life and the Beacon, to provide a visual and metaphorical link between the two elements. Metaphorically the plinths may represent the three stages of life: youth, maturity and senescence.
The route between the plinths has not been defined, reflecting the many alternative approaches that can be adopted to lifes journey. The arena of existing trees complete the picture by blurring the view of the destination.
Practically, the plinths also provide much needed informal seating within a park otherwise devoid of such provision, and as such, they have proved popular with park users for relaxation.
The Beacon of Hope, at the edge of the path, terminates the 'path of life'. The orientation of the podium is deliberately set at a different angle to signify the start of a new journey.
The configuration of the elements associated with the Beacon ensure disabled access via a ramp at one side and steps at the other, and enable it to be used as both a formal and informal stage or gathering area. As such it is regularly used throughout the year.
The prow like shape of the podium has direct reference to the adjacent canal and may also have symbolic reference to the last rites of passage associated with many ancient cultures around the world, that of water burials, and the start of the next unknown journey.
The plinth upon which the beacon sits is covered in mosaic tiles in varying colours and shades. They may represent the people directly, or indirectly, affected by HIV in every community.
Within this colourful plinth, a time capsule has been placed which contains messages to loved ones affected by HIV & AIDS, these can be updated annually as part of ceremonies associated with World AIDS Day.
The Beacon, a spiralling stainless steel column, rises from the mosaic plinth. Its' internal illumination provides nocturnal interest and reference to the HIV/AIDS candle lit vigils held throughout the world. It also acts as a permenant reminder as people leave the numerous bars and clubs in the area in the twilight hours.
The engraved and pierced hearts on the column gesture towards fragile lives and loves lost to HIV/AIDS, and to the compassion needed throughout society to help control its increase and spread.