Park’s spectacular art unveiling

Lilford Park in Leigh
Lilford Park in Leigh

A Leigh park will get a splash of colour when a spectacular new artwork raising awareness of mental health issues is unveiled later tomorrow.

Standing Tall, a sculpture of three large sunflowers, will be revealed to the public at a ceremony in Lilford Park on Friday afternoon.

We chose sunflowers because we wanted something that would fit in the park, reflect the natural environment and be appreciated by everyone.

Kerry Tuhill

The artwork has been created by Action Factory through working with men and women on two mental health units at Leigh Infirmary.

The flowers are covered with key words relating to mental health, stigma and recovery and also emphasise how people who have experienced mental health conditions are not so different to those who have not.

Kerry Tuhill, from Action Factory, said: “When we went to Leigh Infirmary we talked to the men and women there about mental health, spoke about overturning misconceptions and did some creative sessions as well.

“They were very keen to emphasise we’ve got a lot of common ground. People sometimes feel that if you have suffered from depression or some form of mental illness you are somehow different, and there is such a stigma around it.

“The words they chose to put on the sculpture are quite universal. The stem has compassion, respect and ‘understand me’ on it and the base has trust, hope and love. They are really positive.

“We chose sunflowers because we wanted something that would fit in the park, reflect the natural environment and be appreciated by everyone.

“The group we worked with definitely recognised the importance of getting outside and being in the fresh air, and it has also been proven that gardening and growing plants has a positive effect on mental health.

“One of the men also said he liked sunflowers because they stand tall, like they are standing proudly. We’ve gone for three different sizes of flowers and one is bending over slightly, which perhaps has an element of admitting that we need support.”

The art project started through conversations between Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles and the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust before Blackburn-based organisation Action Factory and Garstang metal artist Salina Somalya were chosen to make it a reality.

The sculpture will be located in a paved area just off the main path in the Elmridge park, which was chosen as the location as the 5 Boroughs often takes its service users there.

The sunflowers will be unveiled on Friday in support of World Mental Health Day, which fell on October 10, and Kerry says it will be a proud moment when they are finally unveiled.

She said: “I’m so excited. It’s been quite a long project so it will be fantastic to see it all come together. The flowers look really beautiful and the colours are vibrant.”

Standing Tall will be unveiled in Lilford Park on Friday October 14 at a ceremony between 1pm and 3pm.