BrumYODO and Birmingham Hippodrome are proud to announce that In Memoriam – an open-air art installation by internationally renowned artist Luke Jerram – is to come to Birmingham for this year’s A Matter of Life and Death Festival.

The outdoor artwork will be sited in the grounds of Aston Park from 8-16 May and is free to visit in line with Government guidance on lockdown restrictions and with COVID-19 safety measures in place.

In Memoriam is a temporary memorial for the public to visit and remember all those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has also been made in tribute to all the NHS health and care workers who have been risking their lives during the crisis. The artwork consists of 120 flags created from bed sheets arranged in the form of a medical logo.

Birmingham Hippodrome’s Director of Festivals Graham Callister said: “We have worked hard over the last 12 months to offer meaningful, covid-safe cultural experiences to Birmingham to continue to enrich the cultural life of the region. We are so pleased to be presenting another stunning installation from Luke Jerram and to partner with BrumYODO to offer a moment of calm and reflection on the Coronavirus pandemic. We would also like to thank Birmingham City Council Parks Service and Public Art Group for their support with this special installation.”

In Memoriam is also the focus of this year’s A Matter of Life and Death Festival, an annual arts and culture event aiming to encourage conversation about death and dying created by community interest company BrumYODO this year working in partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome. The festival will also include a programme of online events and an invitation to people across Birmingham and beyond to take part remotely by creating a personalised In Memoriam flag.

Festival Producer and BrumYODO Director Antonia Beck said: “Each year BrumYODO presents responsive and meaningful creative experiences in Birmingham as a way to support people to have conversations about death. This May we are delighted to be hosting Luke’s thought-provoking In Memoriam in partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome and Birmingham City Council.

“In Memoriam is a peaceful and reflective installation, and we hope it will support people to mark this extraordinary time and commemorate those who have died from the pandemic.”

BrumYODO, a CIC devoted to creating opportunities for discussion around end of life, has launched a free flag-making template via its website with accompanying resources to support people to start conversations around death and dying. People will be invited to upload images of their completed flags to BrumYODO’s website.

Antonia added: “We recognise that not everyone will be able to travel to Aston to experience In Memoriam in person, and so we are also encouraging people to get involved remotely by making their own In Memoriam flags and installations at home and by taking part in our online events.  We’d love as many people as possible to join in so please visit our website and follow our social media for details.”

Luke Jerram is a multidisciplinary artist whose previous works include the three-dimensional planet Gaia and Museum of the Moon, a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition which formed part of Birmingham Hippodrome’s Summer in Southside festival in 2019.

Luke said: “It’s great to be bringing In Memoriam to Birmingham for the first time and I hope the installation is of value to people who have been affected by the pandemic.

“Not many people have been able to grieve properly, with loved ones unable to visit their relatives in hospitals, funerals cancelled and places of worship and community closed. So there’s a massive need for an artwork that can help us grieve for those we’ve lost.”

In Memoriam has been designed specifically to be presented in large open spaces to comply with social distancing. With the expanse of space around the flags and a strong air flow, the artwork can safely be visited with people able to walk, stand or sit in its midst.

BrumYODO and Birmingham Hippodrome have been working with Birmingham City Council to ensure a site which is both accessible and safe for people to visit. The grounds of Aston Park are free to visit and there is parking available.

In Memoriam in Birmingham is kindly supported by Arts Council England, Without Walls, Birmingham City Council, Aston Hall and A Natural Undertaking.

In Memoriam by Luke Jerram was originally commissioned by the Weston Arts + Health Weekender. Supported by Without Walls and FESTIVAL.ORG. Informed by the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Weather Lives’ project, led by Dr Cassie Phoenix at Durham University.

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