Covid memorial sculpture unveiled in Sheffield

  • By Andrew Barton and Lucy Ashton
  • bbc news


The monument’s sculptor, George King, said its “delicate shape of a weeping willow” represented how communities came together during the pandemic.

A permanent memorial to those who have died with Covid-19 and the anonymous workers of the pandemic has been unveiled in Sheffield.

The sculpture depicting a willow tree was chosen from 14 entries after submissions were solicited by Sheffield City Council.

The artwork was installed in Balm Green Gardens, near Barker’s Pool.

Sheffield Mayor Sioned-Mair Richards said the sculpture would be a “special refuge in the city”.

“A place like this, which is so beautiful in the middle of the city, is going to be very special for all those people who have lost someone in recent years,” he added.


Council leader Terry Fox said the sculpture was in the “perfect place” for people to visit and reflect on the pandemic.

Architect and sculptor George King said he hoped people would be proud of the piece, which had been “made in Sheffield for the people of Sheffield”.

King said it had been “an honor” to create the stainless steel sculpture and “a great responsibility.”


Sculptor George King said: “Covid affected everyone, and we took this project seriously to reflect people’s experiences.”

Speaking about the design, he said: “A willow tree has a strong trunk, symbolizing how people worked together to create the strength needed at such a difficult time.”

He said the quotes inside the steel columns came from “memories and experiences of the pandemic” that had been collected on postcards.

“Local poets took bits of them and put them together into a single poem, so as you walk around the sculpture you experience a unique piece of literature,” he said.


King said that in some cultures weeping willows were “a symbol of grief and also of growth and rebirth.”

The artwork was unveiled by local dignitaries, including council leader Terry Fox, around 13:00 GMT on Thursday.

Fox said: “Covid-19 was difficult for everyone, but for some people its effects will last a lifetime.

“I was really looking forward to this wonderful sculpture from Sheffield being here today for many of us to get some reflection and some closure on the Covid Memorial Day. It’s just amazing and a very emotional day.”

Paul Taylor, Sheffield Council’s Covid memorial project leader, said: “The site is perfect in terms of being close to the cenotaph, close to the Woman of Steel (statue).

He added: “It just feels like the right place to put a piece of public art in a nice garden for people to come and sit and reflect on the pandemic.”


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