A MEMORIAL to commemorate the hundreds of Barnsley lives lost to coronavirus will take pride of place in the town centre’s Glass Works regeneration.
The sculpture, which is being designed and produced by local artist Graham Ibbeson in collaboration with Lockbund Sculpture Foundry, will be located in the new public square upon completion in November.
According to Barnsley Council - one of the first local authorities to commission an artwork to remember lives lost to Covid across the country - it will also serve as a tribute to key workers and the unsung heroes of the pandemic.
The sculpture that will depict seven figures including a young girl, older man, volunteer, nurse, carer, police officer and a teacher - representing different generations and various communities and be reflective of everyone that has been affected throughout the pandemic.
Graham said: “I am honoured to be part of the team creating a permanent memorial to those that have sadly lost their lives to Covid in Barnsley, and to honour our key workers.
“With this work we are paying tribute to the incredible work of our key workers and the ordinary people that have bound a community together.
“We are literally putting these ordinary working people on a pedestal, acknowledging their extraordinary, efforts, sacrifices and skills in protecting our community, and giving us hope for the future.”
The sculpture’s unveil will cap a series of coronavirus-related tributes being planned which will see the first make its debut on Sunday.
Poet Ian McMillan’s words - ‘Barnsley’s fierce love will hold you forever in its heart’ - will appear in the window of the Library @ the Lightbox in a bright neon installation, designed by local artist Patrick Murphy.
Other creative activities will also take place, with schoolchildren being invited to create drawings of key workers that will be incorporated into a plaque on the plinth of the sculpture.
Leader of Barnsley Council, Sir Steve Houghton, said: “This memorial and project will mark one of the most challenging times in our history and be a permanent piece that will endure for many decades.
“It will be a key focal point in our new public square and provide a place for people to visit and commemorate those they have lost and remember the incredible efforts of those that worked tirelessly to look after us and keep things going.
“We are very grateful to both Ian and Graham who have offered their time and services for free by way of demonstrating their love and support to Barnsley, its residents and communities at this difficult time in our history.
MP for Barnsley Central and South Yorkshire Mayor, Dan Jarvis, added: “More than 100,000 people have lost their lives to this wretched disease across the country - including hundreds here in Barnsley.
“It is enormously heartening that Barnsley will commemorate those residents whose lives have been cut short by Covid. I am hugely proud to have worked closely with Steve Houghton and Barnsley Council to ensure that we pay a fitting tribute to them and mourn their passing.”