Poignant artwork installed on Weston beach

In Memoriam

In Memoriam, which has been installed on Weston beach. - Credit: PAUL BLAKEMORE

A stunning piece of artwork has been installed on Weston beach to enable people to pay tribute to all we have lost during the pandemic. 

In Memoriam was created by internationally-acclaimed artist Luke Jerram and it has been set up on Weston beach to mark the start of Weston’s Art and Health Week, which runs from September 18-26. 

The installation of more than 100 flags, made of hospital bedsheets, is also made in tribute to the many NHS health and care workers, both on the frontline and in supporting roles, who have given such invaluable support during the crisis. 

The structure, which is adjacent to Revo Kitchen, allows people to walk freely between the flags to reflect on the past 18 months. 

There will be an information board explaining more about the artwork and marshals will be present every day to interact with the public and ensure the smooth-running of the event.

In Memoriam was originally intended to mark the launch of Culture Weston, the joining of two hospital trusts to form UHBW and the inaugural Weston Arts and Health Week in April 2020, but this could not take place. 

Since then, the acclaimed artwork has been re-imagined as a contemplative response to the coronavirus pandemic and has been experienced by communities all over the UK and in Europe before coming home to Weston. 

Luke Jerram.

Luke Jerram. - Credit: PAUL BLAKEMORE

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Luke Jerram said: “In Memoriam was originally designed for presentation on the beach in Weston-super-Mare but the exhibition was delayed due to the pandemic, so it’s great the artwork is finally being presented there. 

“It feels like, as a nation, we need to come to terms with everything we’ve been through. I hope this artwork will create a framed space and moment in time for personal and shared reflection.” 

The second Weston Arts and Health Week has been made possible through funding from Arts Council England, Without Walls, Quartet Community Foundation, North Somerset Council, Theatre Orchard and Culture Weston, Age UK, The Green Social Prescribing funds and Weston Hospital Charity.  

Support has also been provided by Weston Town Council, Weston  College, Alliance Homes, The Grand Pier, Revo Kitchen and many local businesses as well as the online contributors, including Bristol University, UWE and Arts University Bournemouth. 

(right to left) Artist Luke Jerram, Anna Farthing UHBW Arts Program Director, Paula Birtwistle Produ

Artist Luke Jerram, Anna Farthing from UHBW, Paula Birtwistle and Fiona Matthews from Culture Weston, Cllr Mark Canniford and Weston mayor Cllr James Clayton. - Credit: Mark Atherton

Mark Canniford, executive member for placemaking and economy at North Somerset Council, said: “This incredible installation and the recent cultural events we’ve had over the summer are a shining example of the fantastic placemaking work taking place in the town and all part of the ten-year placemaking strategy we’ve put in place for Weston.  

“It’s truly fitting that In Memorium has been put here as a cultural movement begins to bloom in the town – only yesterday the Arts Council recognised our ability as a vibrant cultural town as we were announced as a priority place to receive funding and support to improve our cultural offering over the next three years.  

“We all know someone who’s been affected by Covid and this is a fitting tribute to all the NHS and care workers, offering a peaceful place to stop, reflect and remember as well as a marker of hope and optimism for the future.” 

The Weston Arts and Health Week features 45 events including a daily programme of free creative tasters, lunchtime digital panels offering food for thought on a range of arts and health issues and teatime artists’ talks.     

Tomorrow evening (Saturday), NHS staff, care workers and volunteers will take part in a torch-lit beach walk, departing from the grounds of Weston General Hospital at 6pm to arrive at In Memoriam for 7.30pm. 

The festival finale will take place on Weston beach, with the first public sharing of ‘A Song for In Memoriam’, specially commissioned from local composer David Ogden for Weston Arts + Health Week and sung by members of the newly formed UHBW NHS choir.  

For full details of all the events taking place, log on to cultureweston.org.uk/listings/weston-arts-health-week/