The artist paraphrases American author Willa Cather (1873-1947) in the
The Road to Freedom Is Bordered with Sunflowers
The original inspiration is Cather’s novel My Antonia (1918): ‘Sunflowers were introduced into that country by the Mormons...
at the time of the persecution, when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where
they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah,
scattered sunflower seeds as they went.
The next summer when the long trains of wagons came though with all the
women and children, they had the sunflower trail to follow... sunflower-bordered roads always seem to
me the roads to freedom.’
The artist’s paraphrasing seems to imply that the journey towards freedom is a blessed or illuminated one.
The Question Mark Inside was commissioned by Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral as the
first large-scale public artwork in the cathedral's history. It marked the 300th anniversary
of the topping-out of Sir Christopher Wren's architectural masterpiece in 2008.
The work posed the simple question, 'What makes your life meaningful and purposeful?' and invited
responses from the public during the anniversary year.
The resulting texts, from the domestic to the sexual to the sublime, were projected onto the
exterior of the cathedral dome, the West Front at Ludgate Hill, and the interior of the Whispering Gallery.
The work's sunflower text has subsequently become an internet ‘meme’. Any search of Twitter or Instagram will produce
many references to the line illustrated by all kinds of images of sunflowers.