During this current pandemic there is all the more necessity for us to talk openly and honestly about death and dying. This is about more than statistics, it is about encouraging us to ensure our loved ones know our choices when facing the end of our lives. In the first in a series of online events we look at how public art can encourage this by creating powerful and thought-provoking images and installations which prompt us to begin these conversations. We will explore art and creativity as responses to COVID-19 alongside how we approach acts of communal remembrance and memorial. Could public art enable us to have better conversations about death and dying?
The panel, hosted by artistic director and facilitator Orit Azaz, will consider how communities approach joint acts of memorial and how public art can enable people to have better conversations around end of life. Luke Jerram is a multidisciplinary artist whose most recent project In Memoriam is a temporary memorial to people who have died from the COVID-19 pandemic. An open air installation featuring huge red and white flags made from bedsheets, it references people who have died in hospital and care homes as well as the many healthcare workers on the frontline during the pandemic.
Luke says: “Not many people have been able to grieve properly, with loved ones unable to visit their relatives in hospitals, funerals cancelled, churches and cathedrals closed. So, although it feels like we’re only half-way through this pandemic, there’s a massive need for an artwork that can help us grieve for those we’ve lost.”
Birmingham-based artist Mohammed Ali fuses street art with digital projections and moving soundscapes and has created works for audiences across the globe including New York, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town.
The chair of the discussion Orit Azaz has worked with a host of regional and national arts organisations including Birmingham Hippodrome, Nofit State Circus and mac Birmingham.
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