COVID-19: Memorial opens in Warwickshire - but will be burned to the ground 'in a powerful moment of catharsis'

·2-min read

People have been leaving messages for loved ones at a memorial to the victims of COVID-19 in Warwickshire.

The 20m (65ft) wooden structure, called Sanctuary, will be burned to the ground a week after it opened on Saturday.

It was put up at the Miners' Welfare Park in Bedworth, with members of the public invited to adorn the walls with letters and mementoes.

The wooden structure pays tribute to those who died after testing positive for coronavirus.

On 28 May it will be set alight in a "powerful moment of catharsis to help signal a rebirth".

Artist David Best, who is known for large-scaled intricately carved structures at Burning Man Festival in the Nevada Desert, designed the memorial, along with independent arts company Artichoke, which produced Sanctuary.

It was built in collaboration with members of the community in North Warwickshire.

"This past year and a half has not been easy for anyone," Mr Best said.

"We have faced terrible tragedy and great loss. I believe in the power of collaboration and community, that by recognising pain and sadness, and laying down our burdens, we can face the future from a place of hope and renewal."

In the UK, more than 178,000 people have died from coronavirus.

In March 2021, a mural organised by COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice opened to the public in London.

The National COVID Memorial Wall stretches 500m along the River Thames and has been pained by volunteers to commemorate the victims of the pandemic.

Read more:
Bereaved families call for coronavirus memorial wall to be made permanent

Helen Marriage, chief executive and artistic director of Artichoke, told Sky News: "The piece is about what everybody has lost over the last two years.

"To let go of something so personal, you have to lose the piece. What does it mean if something stays there forever? It doesn't mean anything. If it stays in people's memories that is a much stronger thing than some statue that they never look at."

Councillor Kris Wilson, leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, added: "It is a symbolic burning of the tower and it's meant to symbolise the end of one thing and the renewal or rebirth of another."

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