Having recently visited Bristol Cathedral to see Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, I was delighted to be invited to meet the man himself prior to the launch of ‘In Memoriam’ in Clevedon’s neighbouring town of Weston-super-Mare. This spectacular, immersive artwork which is on the beach has launched the town’s second Weston Arts + Health Week, taking place throughout the town from 18th to 26th September. It’s free to visit at any time and there is plenty of parking in and around the town.
Luke is a British installation artist and his work involves the creation of sculptures, installations, and live arts projects. He lives in Bristol but has worked internationally since 1997 with many of his artworks in permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wellcome Collection in London. He also tours his art installations to art festivals, museums and cultural organisations worldwide. Luke has had more than 500 exhibitions in over 30 countries worldwide so understandably the people of Weston-super-Mare are very excited about hosting In Memoriam.
Luke is the most exciting and inspirational individual and if you’d like to know more about his work and his many accomplishments, the link to his website is here
His artwork was originally intended to mark the launch of Culture Weston, the joining of two hospital trusts to form UHBW and the inaugural Weston Arts + Health Week in April 2020, but this couldn’t 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 to Weston-super-Mare.
Talking about his work, Luke said:
“… it feels like, as a nation, we need to come to terms with everything we’ve been through. With funerals limited in their capacity and places of worship closed, it’s been hard for many people to grieve properly. I hope this artwork will create a framed space and moment in time for personal and shared reflection.”
The installation of over 100 flags, made of hospital bedsheets and planted in the sand by the sea, forms a strikingly beautiful display against the backdrop of Weston’s famous shore and along the beach from the town’s iconic Grand Pier.
This poignant piece of public art is a temporary memorial for people to visit and remember all that we have lost from the Covid-19 pandemic. It 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.
Presented in the open air and in windy locations, the structure allows people of all ages including children, to enter and walk freely between the flags and to explore and contemplate the artwork in a safe, socially distanced way. 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.
The second Weston Arts + 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.
Considerable in kind support has 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.
Mark Canniford, Executive Member for Placemaking and Economy at North Somerset Council, said:
“It’s truly fitting that In Memoriam 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”
Anna Farthing, Arts Programme Director at UHBW said:
“Over the past eighteen months people in the health sector and in wider society have felt the impacts of multiple losses without having been able to pause, reflect and recover. Thanks to funding support from Arts Council England, and our partnership with Culture Weston, during Weston Arts + Health Week we can offer safe spaces for people to process their feelings, however complex and conflicted they may be. We will also celebrate the many creative opportunities to engage with nature and build communities that can restore wellbeing and sustain health as we look to the future.”
Fiona Matthews, Creative Director at Culture Weston said:
“Through collaborating to produce Weston Arts + Health Week, Culture Weston and UHBW are highlighting the many positive community wellbeing opportunities that are on offer in the town. We hope this programme of outdoor experiences, creative taster events, and stimulating digital discussions includes something different for you to try, shining a light on new possibilities as well as providing reflective and replenishing moments of pause at this particular moment in time.”
I was sorry to miss the ‘Here for You’ procession with NHS staff, care workers and volunteers participating in a torch-lit beach walk, departing from the grounds of Weston General Hospital and finishing at In Memoriam but am looking forward to the dance response to the art which takes place on Friday 24th September 3pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Created and performed amongst the flags by the internationally renowned ‘Studio Wayne McGregor’, alongside dance students from Weston College, the event will also feature a community chorus which everyoneis invited to join. There’s even a practice-at-home dance resource available here: and a massed early evening rehearsal on the beach on Thursday 23rd September. N.B. Wayne is the choreographer of the ABBA Voyage concert that will see Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid performing digitally with a live 10-piece band.
This piece will be performed to the soundtrack ‘A Moment in Time’, originally commissioned by Bristol Old Vic, composed by Dan Jones and featuring the talents of Grant Marshall (Massive Attack), Stew Jackson (writer/producer Massive Attack), Adrian Utley (Portishead), trombonist Liz Purnell, poet Vanessa Kisuule and cellist Drew Morgan.
On the afternoon of Sunday 26th September, within the flags of In Memoriam there will be 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. This will mark the end of the festival.
N.B. Accessibility: the beach can be accessed via a slope next to the Grand Pier. Should you require a beach wheelchair, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.
If you’d like further details of all the exciting events that are taking place in Weston-super-Mare during Weston Arts + Health Week which include over 45 events including a daily programme of free creative tasters, lunchtime digital panels offering food for thought on a range of arts + health issues and teatime artists’ talks. then check out the Culture Weston website, the link is here:
And for those who aren’t aware of Culture Weston Culture Weston, it’s a new and very exciting partnership-led initiative that places culture at the heart of Weston-super-Mare’s daily life and future growth. It is led by North Somerset arts organisation Theatre Orchard, in collaboration with North Somerset Council, Arts Council England and the local community.
All the best to those who have organised Weston Arts + Health Week, I’m sure it will be a wonderful week enjoyed by many in Weston-super-Mare, and many of your Clevedon neighbours.
And a final thank you to Paul Blakemore for his photos and Sally Low for the aerial shots and video.