Garden build underway!

Tower Hamlets Council have begun contruction and hard landscaping of Joseph’s Garden, the new community garden in Whitechapel celebrating the life of Joseph Merrick.

Joseph’s Garden site on Durward Street

The work will be completed ready for planting during summer 2023 with the Joseph’s Garden group taking responsibility for the ongoing care and maintenance of the park.

Gary Marshall and Howard McKenzie of London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Ziad Dajani, co-organiser of Joseph’s Garden.

Director of Ingrams Collection to advise Joseph’s Garden

Jo Baring, Director of the Ingram Collection of Modern British & Contemporary Art, one of the UK’s leading art collections, has become an advisor to the Joseph’s Garden campaign.

A former Director of Christie’s, Jo Baring has also previously curated the annual open submission exhibition for the Royal Society of Sculptors and was curator of the inaugural Masterpiece Sculpture Series.

Changing Faces adds support to campaign

Changing Faces the UK’s leading charity for people living with a visible difference has added its support to the Joseph’s Garden campaign.

Changing Faces CEO Heather Blake said, “Changing Faces supports the Joseph’s Garden project and it’s goals. This is a great opportunity to tell Joseph’s story in a positive way and to celebrate his association with Whitechapel.”

Nearly one in five people in the UK self-identify as as having a visible difference or disfigurement, and Changing Face’s research shows that they are often vulnerable to isolation, loneliness, social anxiety and low self-esteem.

The charity works to transform understanding and acceptance of visible difference, and campaigns to reduce prejudice and discrimination.

Barts NHS Trust support Joseph’s Garden

Royal London Hospital, part of Barts NHS trust

Barts Health NHS Trust has offered its support to the campaign for a garden and statue in Whitechapel commemorating the life of Joseph Merrick.

Barts Chair, Jacqui Smith said, “I would like to confirm my support for creating a garden and statue to celebrate the life of Joseph Merrick and for the important cause of celebrating diversity and raising awareness about physical differences.”

Barts NHS Trust operates the Royal London Hospital where Merrick spent his last years living in Whitechapel.

Tower Hamlets Community Housing back Joseph’s Garden

Tower Hamlets Community Housing is backing the proposal of West Durward Street residents to create a garden and statue in memory of Joseph Merrick.

Community Development Manager Andy Coleborn welcomed the planned garden and statue saying “Joseph’s story is intertwined in the history of Whitechapel and the East End and an area of reflection and sculpture would be a fitting memorial of his life.”

Love Disfigure back Joseph’s Garden

Love Disfigure, the campaign raising awareness and support for people living with disfigurement, is supporting the call by local residents to create Joseph’s Garden in Whitechapel, London to honour the memory of Joseph Merrick.

Love Disfigure supports over 3,000 people with skin conditions, burns, scars or disfigurement and was founded by Sylvia Mac, a child burns survivor.

Sylvia Mac

Sylvia Mac said, “I lived in Shadwell growing up and my mother worked as a cleaner in the London Hospital where Joseph lived his last years. My mother often told me about the “elephant man”. I have always felt connected to him as I was going through battles of my own with my disfigurement.”

Sylvia Mac is joining Joseph’s Garden as an organiser of the community effort to create a new garden and statue to commemorate Joseph Merrick. Sylvia said, “As a person with a disfigurement, It is such a honour to be involved in this wonderful project supportIng the memory of Joseph Merrick.”

Sylvia Mac is a recipient of the UK Prime Minister’s Point of Light and Boots 2020 Women of the Year awards.

Tower Hamlets exploring statue of Joseph Merrick

Tower Hamlet’s mayor John Biggs has tasked his officials to explore taking forward Whitechapel residents’ proposal for a statue of Joseph Merrick.

Responding to a letter from residents of Durward Street, where the proposed statue will be situated, the mayor said:

"The public realm works on Durward Street have begun and whilst they currently do not involve any proposals for a statue I understand there is sufficient space for a statue and I can ask colleagues in the Liveable Streets and the Public Realm Team whether that idea might be taken forward. Further public consultation I envisage would be required to canvass a wide range of opinion on the idea and hopefully to establish if there is a potential consensus as to whether a statue to Joseph Merrick would be fitting and appropriate in this location"

John Biggs

Whitechapel residents call for statue and garden for Joseph Merrick.

Members of the West Durward Street Tenants and Residents Association voted to propose a statue of Joseph Merrick be placed in the centre of a new community garden on Durward Street.

 The new space, ‘Joseph’s Garden’ will be created in the space currently occupied by Whitechapel temporary underground station / Crossrail and a newly pedestrianised western section of Durward Street.
WDSTRA members suggested that the quote Joseph Merrick is famously associated with could be incorporated into an additional piece of public art within the garden or on the Fulbourne Street bridge

If I could reach from pole to pole or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul, The mind’s the standard of the Man.

The statue will be located in sight of both the Royal London Hospital where Joseph Merrick lived his last years and the shop where he was first put on show when brought to London.