Thursday, February 22, 2007

Acorns For Peace

On June 15th 1968 John and Yoko planted two acorns in the grounds of Coventry Cathedral to symbolize peace - one facing East towards Japan and the other facing West to represent Britain. The acorns were buried at the centre of a circular bench, as part of the National Sculpture Exhibition.

They named the sculpture "Yoko by John, John by Yoko - This is what happens when two clouds meet". The idea was that people could sit on the wrought-iron seat and think about the acorns growing into trees.

Planting acorns, 1968

However, the organisers of the exhibition said that the seat couldn't be classed as a sculpture and should therefore not be placed with the other exhibits. The cathedral staff also objected to having the sculpture in the cathedral grounds because John and Yoko were both divorced.

John and Yoko's circular seat

John and Yoko had prepared a leaflet to explain what the acorn exhibition was about, but Canon Verney of Coventry Cathedral refused to distribute the leaflet to cathedral visitors. Here is the letter which John wrote in reply:

28th June 1968

Dear Canon Verney,

Thank you for your Christian attitude. I think the leaflet is explicit - Anthony Fawcett's notes are especially for 'puzzled people' - anyway do you have to explain an acorn? I don't understand why you can't issue our leaflet, unless you worry about gossip (cast the first stone, etc.) The Christian Church does allow divorce doesn't it? Christians are supposed to stand for truth. Christ stood for people - Yoko and I are people.

Of course the piece is about Yoko and me - it's also about you and me, and anyone else you care to mention - it's about everyone and everything. You talk about young people as if you knew something about them - you obviously don't or you wouldn't be worried about our influence on them. Jesus would have loved our piece for what it is.

Love John Lennon

P.S. Could we not substitute something which is not worth stealing, instead of Coventry Cathedral, and which says quite simply "Sit here, and think of a church growing into a bigger church". Then we needn't bother to have clergy and everybody can enjoy THE idea.

The acorns were thought to be stolen by souvenir hunters after a few days.

The event had not attracted as much attention from the media as John and Yoko had hoped, so in 1969 they tried again. This time they sent acorns to as many world leaders as they could think of and asked them to plant the acorn for peace. Many of them did not respond, but several are believed to have planted their acorn.

"We're going to send two acorns for peace to every world leader from John and Yoko. Perhaps if they plant them and watch them grow they may get the idea into their heads" - John Lennon

"It was just a beautiful idea of John's to plant an acorn" - Yoko Ono

"We suddenly realised that when we planted the two acorns together, there was no distance between them. The famous poem of 'East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet' was true - but John and I brought east and west together out of our love." - Yoko Ono (quote from Guardian Unlimited)

"The acorn is a symbol of growth and if you plant it the tree will grow. But if you bomb it, it won't." - John Lennon (from the Eamonn Andrews Show)

To mark the 25th anniversary of John's death in 2005, Yoko returned to Coventry Cathedral to launch Coventry Peace Month. Here is an article about her visit:

Article from icCoventry, 2005

The line "fifty acorns tied in a sack" from "The Ballad of John and Yoko" refers to the acorn campaign.

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