What is Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower all about?

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Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Published: December 2, 2019

Last updated:

The Imagine Peace Tower

The Imagine Peace Tower is a memorial crafted by Japanese-American artist and musician Yoko Ono. She created this in tribute for her deceased husband and legendary member of The Beatles, John Lennon.

The Imagine Peace Tower is Yoko’s largest work of art to date. It took her three years to develop it alongside her engineers.

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007

Location

It is located in Kollafjorour Bay, near Reykjavik, Iceland. The tower was erected in this country because it usually ranks as the most peaceful country in the world. Since the tower is about peace, it only fitted to place it in Iceland.

Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Hours: Monday – Sunday 8pm – 0am

What is shows

It comprises of a tall beam of light projected from a crystal stone monument with inscription Imagine Peace carved into it in 24 different languages, located on the base of the construction. The engraving, which is also the name of the tower, is a reference to John Lennon’s peace campaign and his song Imagine.

The monument represents a blend of history, art, and nature in a fascinating way. Visitors can get a chance to see the screening of the video on the tower, as narrated by Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland
IMAGINE PEACE TOWER stands on a platform 17m in diameter

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland
Around the wishing well are white panels, upon which IMAGINE PEACE is inscribed in 24 languages

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland, inscribed on the walls of the Wishing Well is the phrase IMAGINE PEACE, translated into 24 different languages

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland
Inscribed on the walls of the Wishing Well is the phrase IMAGINE PEACE, translated into 24 different languages

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland
Around the cylindrical Wishing Well, which is the frame for the column of light,
there is a platform faced with three types of native Icelandic stone – hyalite,
dolerite and basalt- in a striped mosaic pattern. At the centre of the platform the
light emerges from a cylindrical Wishing Well, 4m in diameter and 2m high.

3 min 14 sec

How it’s made

The Imagine Peace Tower is made of 15 searchlights as well as a prims that serve as mirrors to reflect the beam of light vertically into the sky from a 10 meters wide wishing well. The light usually reaches the cloud base and can actually be seen piercing through the cloud cover. As described in the official book, the total of six mirrors, are angled at 45 degrees, and act as a prism.

The electricity for the light is generated entirely naturally – geothermally – from hot water – at the Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant, the largest geothermal power station in the world. This was one of the reasons for situating the artwork in Iceland.

The electricity for the light is generated entirely naturally – geothermally – from hot water – at the Hellisheiði Geothermal Power Plant, the largest geothermal power station in the world. This was one of the reasons for situating the artwork in Iceland. Photo: ThinkGeoEnergy/flickr.com

When you should go

On a clear night, the column of light appears to reach up to 4000 meters into the skies. The energy that powers the light is supplied by the geothermal energy grid, using around 75 kW of power. The beam is lit each year starting from October 9 to December 8, the two dates –starting and ending – being the birthday and the day of Lennon’s death.

The tower would have been lit throughout the year. Still, due to the high costs and maintenance to keep it lit for the whole 365 days, Yoko decided that the tower should be lit only during the most significant dates in Lennon’s life, as well as on a few selected dates throughout the year. I realized that, with contrasting the two symbolic dates, it gives an understanding of the shortness of life, and eternity of the spirit, Ono said. It reminds one how brief life can be and is significant even for those not into John Lennon’s life.

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Wish Trees

Beneath the Peace Tower are over 1 million buried written wishes that Yoko On gathered in a project known as Wish Tree1.

Yoko Ono - Wish Tree

Yoko Ono – Wish Tree

Yoko Ono - Wish Tree tags

Yoko Ono – Wish Tree tags

Yoko Ono - Wish Tree instructions

Yoko Ono – Wish Tree instructions

40 years in the making?

Yoko Ono is an established artist with a lot of prominent art projects over the years. It is believed that the Imagine Peace Tower was 40 years in the making. In Ono’s 1964 book Grapefruit, she talks about her artistic novel of creating a lighthouse. The said lighthouse is further described in the 1965 Architectural Works Sales List as a house constructed of light from a prism, which exists in accordance with the changes in the day.

When she started her relationship with John in the late 1960s, the Beatles frontman asked her if she could build him a similar lighthouse to that in Ono’s book, in his backyard. She then explained to Lennon that the concept in her book was abstract: I’m convinced that one day, it could be built, but I don’t know how to do it.

It was over 40 years ago when I conceived this idea of a Light House made of light, and listed it in my Conceptual ‘Sales List’. Two hundred copies of the ‘Sales List’ were sent out to people who followed my artworks.

Ono's Sales List, 1965

Ono’s Sales List, 1965

Ono's Sales List, 1965

Ono’s Sales List, 1965

Yoko Ono - Sketch for Parts of Light House, 1965

Yoko Ono – Sketch for Parts of Light House, 1965

Launch in 2007

40 years later, she launched the lighthouse in the name of Imagine Peace Tower. Ono collaborated with the city of Reykjavik for this project. During the launch of the Imagine Peace Tower, Yoko said,

Actually, this is an answered prayer because my first time in John’s house he talked about building a lighthouse. I never knew how to conceptualize that. I never believed this could be a reality.

During its launch in 2007, the ceremony was broadcasted worldwide. In attendance were former Beatle member Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Olivia Harrison (George Harrison’s widow), and her son Dhani Harrison.

During the unveiling in 2007 on Lennon’s 67th birthday, Yoko said she was convinced that he (Lennon) would have been pleased with the lighthouse. I dedicate this light tower to John Lennon. My love for you is forever, she said. I hope the Imagine Peace Tower will give light to the strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion. Let us come together to realize a peaceful world.

Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono Lennon, Ringo Starr & Olivia Harrison at the unveiling of Imagine Peace Tower on October 9th 2007, John Lennon’s 67th birthday

Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono Lennon, Ringo Starr & Olivia Harrison at the unveiling of Imagine Peace Tower on October 9th 2007, John Lennon’s 67th birthday. The artwork was dedicated to John by Yoko at its unveiling. Photo: Tetsuro Hamada

Stamps

Today, the Imagine Peace Tower is on the Icelandic postal stamps, created by the Icelandic Postal Company in 2008. They depict the tower, which was lit during a special occasion on the Videy Island near Reykjavik. During the release of the stamps, the Yoko Ono was in attendance.

When the stamp is exposed to UV light, the image of John Lennon appears. The outlines of Joh Lennon’s face on the stamp were inspired by wishes for peace on Ono’s Wish Tree, which has traversed the world since 1981. On the paper strips surrounding the ten stamps are the words Imagine Peace written in 24 languages, just like it is on the base of the tower. If the papers are torn off and edge-glued together, individuals can create a candle at the center and create their own lighthouse.

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason - Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Örn Smári Gíslason – Imagine Peace Tower Stamp

Conclusion

The Imagine Peace Tower is just one of the examples of Ono’s art activism for a better world with equality and peace. She is still an active artist today, and her works have a way for women who feel they are vastly underrepresented in the world of art and entertainment. With the Imagine Peace Tower, Ono proved that anything could be done regardless of your age, race, or gender.

Yoko Ono - Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

Yoko Ono – Imagine Peace Tower, 2007, Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland

All images: Yoko Ono/imaginepeacetower.com unless otherwise noted.

More

More by Yoko Ono

 

 

  1. https://publicdelivery.org/yoko-ono-wish-tree/
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