Remembering Together – Glasgow’s Covid Memorial

Image Description: Phase 1 Research – The Story and Colour Collection

Access the press release here.

Remembering Together has commissioned artists in all 32 local authority areas in Scotland to co-create with communities, honouring the people we have lost and finding the ways we want to remember them. At the beginning of 2023, 16,465 people in Scotland had died with Covid since the outbreak began in March 2020 and sadly there is still further pain and suffering. Many have lost friends, loved ones, colleagues or have themselves been affected by the ongoing impact of Long Covid. In this way, Glasgow’s Covid Memorial is also about remembering all the ways Covid is still affecting us. The final memorial will offer a place to connect, to reflect and to Remember Together, being part of a process to commemorate those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced loss and change as well as celebrating the ways in which Scottish communities have come together during the most difficult times. Remembering Together will also embody the ways in which communities continue to support one another.

What are we remembering?

Covid touches, and continues to affect, everyone in Scotland, and in the world. Coming together now and into 2024 gives us some space to pause, to reflect and to consider all that has happened and is still happening. Remembering Together aims to support the many ways of being together in reflecting upon and remembering these months and years; remembering those lost, remembering that we are all touched by this experience, remembering that for some who were experiencing inequality already, the impact is deeper. This has also been about remembering and reconnecting with each other in our isolation while remembering that Covid is not over yet.

What will we co-create?

Remembering Together might not necessarily result in the kinds of memorials you expect.  The commissioned artists for Phase 2, the final phase in the creation of Glasgow’s Covid Memorial, are committed to co-creation and collaboration and they will be working with people in the community to define what ‘memorial’ means for them, shaping aspects of the final design.

As we take steps in a post-pandemic world, and back to a “normal” way of life, it’s important to remember that the grief and suffering remains for those who have lost loved ones throughout the pandemic. These Community Memorials will provide fitting and lasting local tributes to those who lost their lives to COVID-19 and other illnesses during the pandemic, and will support those who have experienced change, loss and isolation in other ways.

Phase 1 – Creative Community Engagement Research & findings

Phase 1’s creative engagement research took place from August to December 2022, where the commissioned phase 1 artist, Audrey O’Brien, hosted 18 creative sessions with 9 key community groups in different parts of the city. Phase 2 will ensure that Glasgow’s Covid Memorial is reflective of the memories, experiences and stories gifted to this project in the first phase. 

Remembering Together: Co-creating Covid Community Memorials Glasgow is part of this national project 2022-2024. Read more about it here.

Sharing the Phase 1 Research – The Story and Colour Collection

In co-exploring how Covid19 affected people’s lives, the Red, Amber, Grey  and Green publication symbolises and reflects experiences of Glasgow’s citizens during the pandemic. A Story and Colour Collection grew organically from a process of workshops focused on sharing stories and  processing memories through interactions with colour.

Royal Concert Hall Purple, Magenta, Green

In life there are dark and light times…when put together they make a beautiful picture

Women’s Craft Group, Milk Café, 2022

This unifying concept encompasses absolutely everything that everyone has experienced to this point. Everybody’s choices have dedicated colours (our “blossoms”) in whatever order for whatever reason. All of the dark colours chosen, all of the light colours chosen. All of them when put together. Mapping out everybody’s colours reveals a kaleidoscope that is the beautiful picture. It has difficulty and joy and loss and grief and happiness and discovery; it has all those things in it.

Audrey O’Brien, Kath Pierce and Mhari Baxter, Remembering Together, Glasgow 2023

A publication in the form of a folding map and poster archives the  voices from this collection. The map is a background to a poem  telling a story from different perspectives using carefully selected  observations from the workshops. In seven verses, the poem is in  strophic form, inspired by traditional folk songs, which means the  same line, Nobody Knew No Body Knew, is repeated.

The poster side shows a selection of the coloured ink shapes we  called “blossoms”, which were used in the workshops. The  corresponding text depicts how communities shared their  experiences through these. The stories are gifted to Glasgow towards  the co-creation of a Covid memorial.

Warm and special thanks to co-creators:
North Glasgow Integration Network, Women’s Group Barmulloch Community Development Company (BCDC)  B-active & Yoga Groups BCDC
Early Years Scotland
Milk Café, Women’s Craft Group
Hidden Gardens volunteers
Dixon Community
Community research by lead artist Audrey O’Brien in collaboration with Mhari Baxter and Kath Pierce.

Phase 1 artist and collaborators

Audrey O’Brien

I work in Arts and Health across collage, sculpture, photography and curated events. I am curious how we use our senses. The materials I use have sensory qualities like scented plants and tactile papers. I use process-based techniques which appear into interactive artworks and text-works responding to people. In a recent commission, I worked with carers, focusing on the senses and memory to explore the current health crisis.

Mhari Baxter

I am inspired by the different ways we relate and communicate. Through working creatively with people who have non-verbal communication, I became aware of how important the breath and body language is for building relationships and supporting wellbeing. I learnt that the body holds memories, resources, speaks and has great wisdom. Currently I hold a private practice as a movement psychotherapist and yoga teacher. I offer 1:1 sessions for people and wellbeing training. I also work as a school counsellor for children and young people.

Kath Pierce

I like to work with and for people who experience and understand the world a bit differently. As a Study Skills and Specialist Mentor in Further and Higher Education, as well as in a professional setting, I enjoy supporting students and professionals with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Conditions and a variety of mental health issues. I am also the Founder/Director of Somewhere, a social business championing and connecting Scotland’s LGBTQ+ community through culture and enterprise. In 2020 I co-founded Scotland’s biggest and brightest quarterly LGBTQ+ magazine, Somewhere: For Us

Phase 2 is underway…

Now in Phase 2, Glasgow’s Remembering Together Covid Memorial will create four structures in four public parks. With Glasgow being affectionately known as the Dear Green Place, and with over 90 parks and gardens in the city, community members felt that Glasgow’s memorial should honour this connection, and the importance of these public green spaces during the pandemic and social distancing restrictions as sites of togetherness and as a tether to nature and the world outside our window.

They will both be working over the next six months to deliver a dispersed Community Covid Memorial in four of Glasgow’s public parks. The phase 2 artists will be connecting with the previous participants in Phase 1 in the coming months to ensure continued engagement with those who have been involved in the initial phase of Remembering Together Glasgow’s Covid Memorial. They will be scheduling both public sessions and online activities to share information about the work and invite contributions to a variety of elements within the final memorial project. The launch of the memorials will take place in June 2024 as part of a city-wide Festival of Remembering Together. This will see each of the designated parks hosting a memorial launch event with music, dance and performance, each bringing people together to reflect on the grief and loss during Covid-19, but also to acknowledge the mutual support and the solidarity that got us through it, and that will continue to do so as communities remember.

Artists

Hailing from Glasgow, littlewhitehead is an artistic duo formed of Craig Little and Blake Whitehead. They both graduated from Glasgow School of Art and have since exhibited widely to much acclaim.They take inspiration from the city’s working class and post-industrial culture, and make poetic sculpture and spaces experimenting with how material interactions can create capacity for meaning. Having worked together for 16 years, they have the experience and practice that can deliver this commission, realising multi-layered sculptures that have co-creation with stakeholders at their heart.

“Covid has been a significant event in our lives and we realise the need for spaces that foster reflection, healing and hope. It is crucial these spaces find the right balance between memorial, a place to be present and looking forward to the future…”

– littlewhitehead