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.
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 globally. Since the tower is about peace, it is only fitted to place it in Iceland.
Viðey Island, Kollafjörður Bay, near Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: Monday – Sunday 8pm – 0am
What is shows
It comprises a tall beam of light projected from a crystal stone monument with the inscription Imagine Peace carved into it in 24 different languages, located on the construction base. The engraving, which is also the name of the tower, references 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 video screening on the tower, as narrated by Yoko Ono.
How it’s made
The Imagine Peace Tower is made of 15 searchlights and prisms 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, a total of six mirrors are angled at 45 degrees and act as a prism.
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. Yoko said:
I realized that, by contrasting the two symbolic dates, it gives an understanding of the shortness of life and eternity of the spirit. It reminds one how brief life can be and is significant even for those not into John Lennon’s life.
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 about 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.
Later she stated:
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.
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.
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, 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.
The Imagine Peace Tower is just one example 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.