The Why?s Man

"My art is place specific and people specific." George Wyllie

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In 1945, George Wyllie was in the South Pacific when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He and his shipmates were in Hiroshima within a few weeks of that bombing, and witnessed the devastation.

In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of peace in the Pacific, George Wyllie turned Glasgow's George Square into a commemorative garden. Twenty-seven white square plinths were arranged in a grid, reminiscent of the grid Wyllie had remembered from Hiroshima. In 1995, the grid was laid out around a plaque which had been placed to mark the 40th anniversary.

On each of the white plinths, laid out like a military cemetery, were charred trees, similar to those the young George Wyllie had seen, each tree standing in crushed granite and molten glass. On two plinths on either side of the 40th anniversary plaque, were placed a chrysanthemum (Japan) and a thistle (Scotland), and on the final plinth, there was nothing. Granite chippings were placed between the plinths, unifying them.

In a simple ceremony, a piper played Flowers of the Forest while two young people, one Scottish and one Japanese, placed flowers on the empty plinth. George Wyllie placed an origami bird (a crane, symbol of peace in Japan) between the flowers. On its wings were the words, 'for the children'. The piper finished playing and placed a sprig of heather next to the bird.


"Building hope to heal scars" - GW

"The Difference of Hiroshima."- GW


An Essay by Graham Ross on George Wyllie's The Difference of Hiroshima (Download PDF)

George Wyllie Education Initiative

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