A 12-foot (3.5 meter) tall sculpture on Broad Street was unveiled at midday on March 30 and will be displayed there for the next four weeks. Designed by Witney-based artist Dan Barton, the installation shows a Ukrainian soldier holding a gun and a baby and helping a woman and child reach safety.
Barton characterized the intent behind the monument as to show support for Ukraine amidst Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country. “Its purpose is to honour those who fight for freedom and to show our unwavering solidarity to people suffering in Ukraine,” he said in an interview with BBC News.
The Broad Street sculpture was produced in collaboration with artist Peter Naylor and laser cut out of 15 mm sheet steel, weighing in at seven tonnes. From the idea’s first conception to the reveal of the final product, the process took 12 days. The project was spearheaded by Standing with Giants, a voluntary community group and not-for-profit organisation dedicated to honouring those who have lost their lives during conflict by creating large-scale art installations.
“Historically, monuments, tributes and sculptures come after the event,” Barton said. “However, for Ukraine, we wanted to act now.”
Barton said that the sculpture had already prompted messages from people in Ukraine “thanking us that we haven’t forgotten them.” He also noted that the design of the Broad Street sculpture was meant to be shared, and that he hoped other cities might follow suit.
Previous displays created by Standing with Giants include life-size cut-outs of 300 NHS workers in South Park, Oxford dedicated to their contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hundreds of soldier silhouettes and poppy cut-outs placed at a number of locations as a remembrance tribute. Standing with Giants also raises money on behalf of other charities.
The Broad Street installation was made possible by funding from private supporters, volunteers, and sponsors, according to the Standing with Giants website. Oxford City and County councils also worked closely with the organization in order to provide the space in which to display it. Oxfordshire County Council Chairman John Howson attended the unveiling of the sculpture on March 30.
Since Russia first commenced military operations in Ukraine on Feb. 24, hundreds of people from across Oxford have turned out to protest against the invasion, and the Oxford City Council has temporarily cut ties with the Russian city of Perm, with which Oxford had previously been twinned since 1995.
Image Credit: Wang Sum Luk