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Artists to create a permanent Covid memorial for Sheffield

Town Hall and Peace Gardens at dusk

Sheffield-based artists are being briefed this week about plans for a permanent city centre Covid memorial that will open in Spring 2023.

The unique memorial, located in Balm Green Gardens, will be a meaningful, long-lasting, and creative tribute to those who have lost their lives, those who have worked above and beyond to keep people as safe as possible and those who have been affected by Covid.

This second phase of the Covid memorial programme is asking artists to propose their ideas for how a memorial tree will reflect the thoughts, theme and sentiments gathered from the first phase of Sheffield’s Covid memorial programme. It is seen as significant artwork that will become a part of the physical and social fabric of the city.

The brief outlines that it is looking for artists with experience of producing work in the public realm and engaging with diverse, under-represented communities to develop ideas, build a sense of ownership and strengthen cultural provision. 

The memorial will be constructed using cast or fabricated metal to reflect the city’s heritage and could also include stone, ceramic, cast glass or other durable materials. It must be designed to allow people to connect with it either by reading the stories and messages it holds or by attaching temporary messages or ribbons.

Sitting within the planted garden, the sculpture will provide a focal point to the space for people to pay their respects and place tributes and memories and be a symbol that people from all cultures can understand and relate to and be accessible to everyone.

The existing Balm Green Gardens will be upgraded alongside this project, including creating better accessibility for anyone with a disability.

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield’s Central Covid memorial will be a permanent tribute to those who have lost their lives, those who have worked above and beyond to keep people as safe as possible and those who have been affected by Covid.

“We hope that the brief given to our artists today will result in a creative permanent tribute, where anyone can go and just stand and look at it, to reflect, to be thoughtful. A place where they can feel the compassion that was shown in so many ways by so many people when Covid entered our lives. Covid was difficult for everyone in all sorts of ways, but for some people its effects will last a lifetime. We are acutely aware that some groups were disproportionately affected by Covid, and we are committed to making sure their voices are reflected in this memorial and committed to reducing the inequalities we see in the city as much as we can.”

The selection process will be run by Sheffield Museums on behalf of Sheffield City Council, and it is expected that an artist will be selected by the end of October and the artwork installed in Balm Green Gardens by Spring 2023.

Councillor Terry Fox added: “We hope that Sheffield people, groups and organisations will continue to be part of shaping our memorial activity here, by sharing stories at , getting involved in local memorial activity and by participating in this Balm Green Gardens project. This will all help us achieve what we planned when this memorial activity first started, and that is a perfect memorial to those loved ones we have lost and those who are here living with that loss.”

For information:

  • ‘Stories from the pandemic’ is the first part of the memorial programme and residents, community and voluntary groups and city organisations have been responding to it by sharing their stories about the pandemic at or via postcards which are available in libraries, museums and other city venues.
  • The postcards have been designed to encourage people to share their stories, thoughts, or experiences about something small that made a big difference, something they are thankful for, a significant moment, the small acts of kindness they experienced or something they have learned or about their feelings of loss.
  • The project is being delivered by Opus Independents, Compassionate Sheffield and Sheffield City Council and its Sheffield City Archives Service, working with a range of organisations. The trailer at documents some of the stories that have already been gathered to launch the ‘Stories from the Pandemic’ project. connects and supports people, communities, and organisations to harness the power of compassion. It was often the small acts of kindness that made the biggest difference to people during the pandemic.
  • Every story and experience collected will be made live at and plans are in development about exhibiting the gathered stories. They will go on to form a lasting archive of Sheffield’s Covid stories, focussing on what the pandemic meant to our communities, and will become a part of our recorded history.
  • Local memorial activity is also part of the first phase of the overall programme, where community groups have recently been given the opportunity to bid for up to £2,000 per community group to carry out local memorial activity in their neighbourhoods.
  • The key focus of the overall programme is to make sure that Sheffield residents, community and voluntary groups and city organisations have tributes, locally and centrally, of which they can be proud.


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