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Sanctuary memorial
Photograph: Matthew Andrews

A huge ‘Wicker Man’-style sculpture is being burned down to commemorate victims of Covid-19

The memorial will be built with the help of the local community, then set on fire as a symbol of rebirth

Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Sophie Dickinson

The past couple of years have been pretty damn shit. And while we might not feel like reflecting on it just yet, it’s kind of impossible to overstate the impact it’s had on us all. That’s why US-based artist David Best is collaborating with the community of Bedworth in the UK’s West Midlands to build a memorial to all those who’ve died over the past two years (and everything else we’ve lost as a result of the pandemic, too). Visitors will be able to explore the inside of the sculpture before the big finale, during which it’ll be burned to the ground, Wicker Man-style. 

Aptly, the installation will be named ‘Sanctuary’, and people will be able to leave mementos inside about that reflect their experience of Covid. It isn’t the first time Best has created works in this style: he’s best known for creating the intricate, recycled-wood structures that grace the desert at Burning Man festival.

Locals are being encouraged to get involved, too. Jane Hytch, of production firm Imagineer (which is co-organising the project with Artichoke, an events company), says the team is looking for everyone from ‘complete beginners to those who have experience in construction and woodworking to support with building the structure’. They’re also running a competition for local schools and community groups to design panels for the structure, and inviting people to volunteer as tour guides.

The organisers have described the final burning ceremony as a ‘beacon of hope to mark the rebirth, recovery and regeneration of the whole community’.

Sanctuary will open on May 21, with the fiery finale taking place on May 28. To find out more, visit the official website.

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