Arts and Culture

A Lasting Legacy

Original Legacy Tree design by Gillian Davenport

Deep within the Clifford Whitworth Library at the heart of the University of Salford campus, an exciting new project is underway. The centrally based courtyard in Clifford Whitworth is currently being converted into a brand new Legacy Garden. This garden will become a peaceful place for friends and family to commemorate those who supported the University of Salford in their lifetime or who have left a legacy gift to the institution.

Clifford Whitworth courtyard before the renovations

The focal point of the garden will be a sculpture designed by one of our very own alumni, Fine Art Graduate – Gillian Davenport.

Gillian was engaged to the project through a competition put out to select students within the school of Arts & Media. The brief was to design a sculpture based on the themes of life, philanthropy, caring, togetherness, education & generosity. Gillian won this competition with her “Legacy Tree” design while in her second year studying at Salford. She spoke to us about the circular tree design, which represents the circle of life.

“…the most important element of the design was the legacy tree etched into the three panels of glass. The roots are visible to connect the family tree and falling leaves are visible to give the viewer the sense of how fragile life is but also of regrowth ”

– Gillian Davenport

The inspiration for the design also links to the iconic Peel Park – and the many new contemporary sculptures that inhabit the area.

Gillian Davenport

Winning the comission meant a great deal to Gillian as she had recently experienced loss within her own family.

“I was extremely surprised, shocked and proud of my achievement […] Having lost both my parents recently I wanted to create a sculptural memorial for them, having won the commission it has given me an opportunity to create a lasting legacy for my son and partner, both my parents would be proud of my achievement… having a beautiful place with a sculptural memorial for families to honour and a place to reflect is really important to me”

– Gillian Davenport

The main sculpture will be made from concrete; a durable and hardwearing material, while the memorial plaques will be engraved into glass on individual plinth’s. The combination of the opposing materials of concrete and glass gives the structure a contemporary and juxtaposed feel; delicate yet grounded in strength. This illustrates themes of life and legacy, life is fragile, but the impact is strong and will last for generations.

Legacy Tree, concrete design

The structure will also be lit during the evening to reveal the tree design, creating an ambient light and shadow effect. Coupled with the glass plinths this creates an atmosphere and mood of reflection of the past.

Gillian’s structure is the last component of the Legacy garden which she hopes will become “A beautiful place to sit and study or have a peaceful moment through the day and evening”.

Due to the current Coronavirus situation – the garden renovation and structure creation has been put on hold. Once complete, it will be open to visitation and use by the whole University community.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Gillian for her wonderful design and hardwork in progressing this project, as well as all of our donors who have dedicated a plaque in the garden in memory of a loved one.

If you are interested in finding out more about the memorial garden or would like to talk to someone about leaving a gift in your will or in memory of a loved one, please contact us at; or call 0161 295 2446