Universal Pilgrim unveiled in Southernhay

Earlier today the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Cllr Cynthia Thompson, officially unveiled a new statue in Southernhay.


The Universal Pilgrim, by Axminster-based sculptor David Holland, is is dedicated to ‘all those on a journey towards a tolerant, equal, humane and peaceful world.’ and he carved the figure in early 2015 as a reaction to the violence and inhumanity he had seen in the world.

After reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, David was fascinated by the story about a staid, elderly man living in Kingsbridge, Devon, who goes out to post a letter to a childhood sweetheart who is dying of cancer in Berwick on Tweed. Instead of putting the letter in the postbox he decides, impulsively, to just keep on walking and deliver it by hand.

At the same time as he was juggling with this image, there were the most appalling stories of barbaric cruelty on the news, and so gradually, the idea of a “Universal Pilgrim” took shape; something that would represent anyone who was purposefully making a journey towards a more humane society no matter what their background.

The figure is truly universal;there is  nothing about  it that could identify it with any faith, belief, colour, ethnicity, gender or political persuasion 


In the sculpture you can identify just three things:

– It is evidently a human

– The human is walking

– The human is carrying a burden

Relevant today, as much as ever, the human is burdened by prejudice and fear and it is meant to represent  and encourage all those on a journey towards a more tolerant, equal and humane society.  No matter who you are or where you come from, we are “All Different, All Equal” rising up to make the Universal Pilgrimage of Peace…

It was originally on display in Lyme Regis, but the artist saw the work undertaken by Dr. Suaad Genem-George in relation to equalities in Exeter – especially the  and he presented The Universal Pilgrim to wanted to Dr Suadd George and the city of Exeter.

The statue project was initiated by the co-chair of The Devon Faith and Belief Forum Dr Suaad Genem-George (Muslim) with Ravi Nathwani (Hindu) the other co-chair. The Dean of Exeter Jonathan Draper offered a prayer at the ceremony and Diocesan Inter-Faith Adviser John Hall, who was present, said: “This is so timely. All can see what Exeter stands for.”