‘Gratitude’ sculptures launched in Birmingham by Dame Zandra Rhodes to honour NHS and pandemic key workers
A spectacular array of beautifully painted human form sculptures paying tribute to NHS staff and all key workers for their ongoing courage and dedication during the pandemic have been launched in Birmingham before they make their way to Manchester, Edinburgh and London this summer.
‘Gratitude’, an installation by global art producer Wild in Art, is on display from 20 August at Chamberlain Square in Paradise Square, Birmingham.
The installation will stay at the location for 10 days until 30th August before visiting Manchester’s St Peter’s Square (3rd to 12th September) and other soon-to-be revealed locations in Edinburgh (17th – 26th September) and London (1st – 10th October).
The free to visit exhibition consists of 51 sculptures, all designed by individual artists from different regions, and curated in partnership with creative ambassador Dame Zandra Rhodes.
Enclosed by mirrors on two sides, Gratitude creates infinite reflections of the stunning artwork, highlighting the endless dedication from NHS carers and key workers across the country. The mirrors also ensure visitors become part of Gratitude, creating an immersive experience and reflecting the contributions of the entire population.
Created by the team behind the hugely successful Birmingham trails The Big Hoot 2015, The Big Sleuth 2017 and Manchester’s award-winning Bee in the City 2018, Gratitude aims to connect people and communities, artists and businesses, NHS staff and all key workers, inviting people to come together to reflect and show their appreciation.
The installation will be open to the public before the sculptures are auctioned off at a later date, where substantial proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together, which supports the NHS, including its hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental healthcare providers and vital partnerships.
As well as celebrating the incredible work of our key workers, the installation will reflect the stories and contributions of this unprecedented year through beautiful art and audio which will represent the UK’s nations and regions.
Artwork will be on display from multi talented artists and designers from across the country including iconic Scottish fashion designer Pam Hogg with her sculpture ‘Courage’, a statue of remembrance, for selfless, life-risking, endless dedication; renowned sculptural artist Andrew Logan with his design ‘Spiral Stardust – Homage to the Alexander Technique’, British fashion and textile designer Kitty Joseph, and one of the UK’s leading ceramic artists, Kate Malone with her design ‘Life Force’ which is inspired by the optimism and joy in nature.
Their artwork and designs will form part of the installation alongside fashion icon and London based designer, Dame Zandra Rhodes and other highly acclaimed British artists including Birmingham artist Edward Luke Thrush with his design ‘Super Stars’, which pays tribute to the amazing work done by all key workers who have kept the country moving during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cardiff-based illustrator Matt Joyce with his design, ‘The Joy of Pets’ celebrating all the animals that have kept us company during the pandemic, internationally-acclaimed Manchester street art muralist duo Nomad Clan with their sculpture ‘Digital Conscience’, a design which explores digital identity, virtual reality, over stimulation and value systems during this challenging time and London artist Harkiran Kalsi with her design ‘I Am Thankful For…’, inspired by all the things that make us feel grateful for being alive and appreciating the small things.
Designers and artists also hailing from Birmingham include Jessica Perrin with her ‘We Can Be Heroes’ sculpture, which depicts a colourful expression of gratitude for some extremely valued and hardworking key workers; and Amrit Singh – commonly known as MrASingh – with his ‘Community Strength’ design which is a dedication to all of the fantastic voluntary key workers from diverse backgrounds.
There’s also the work of artistic duo Lucky Pablo with ‘Lockdown Pastimes’, a design which is inspired by hobbies and pastimes which kept us going throughout the pandemic such as baking, art and gardening and Nisha Grover’s sculpture ‘The Love Being’, which represents a message of unity and togetherness for these challenging times.
Celebrity tributes to NHS
Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder of Wild in Art said: “Gratitude is set to be a beautiful and striking tribute which celebrates the incredible courage and dedication of the UK’s NHS staff and all key workers and supports the vital work of NHS Charities Together.
“We are delighted to be launching our tour at Paradise Birmingham, after months of hard work from artists across the UK, who have dedicated their time and creativity to help us produce an installation which reflects our endless Gratitude for the care and kindness that all key workers have provided.”
The installation will also share real-life stories and poems about key workers, a selection of which have now been recorded by a host of well-known voices from across the UK, including Adil Ray, Hugh Bonneville, Sarah Parish, Norman Cook, Christopher Eccleston, Julie Hesmondhalgh, John Thomson, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Shobna Gulati and KT Tunstall.
Visitors to the installation will be able to listen to the stories and poems via the Gratitude App and website, which have been brought to life by the actors paying tribute to key workers.
From touching tributes to doctors and staff at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital to a light-hearted story about a dedicated Deputy Head Teacher striving to keep her pupils happy, a railway worker who has gone over and above his duties to keep people safe on their daily commutes to a powerful poem about our NHS heroes, listeners are sure to be taken on a journey of quiet reflection whilst observing the stunning artwork.
Good Morning Britain presenter, actor and Birmingham treasure, Adil Ray OBE said: “I’m delighted that ‘Gratitude’ is launching in my home city of Birmingham and I am incredibly honoured to be voicing one of the stories. The pandemic has affected us all in so many different ways, so it’s wonderful to be working on such a creative and thought-provoking installation, that we can all contribute to and experience.”
On voicing one of the stories, legendary DJ, and Martlets Hospice Ambassador Norman Cook said: “What an honour to be voicing one of the incredible real life stories that will be part of ‘Gratitude’. The sculptures, artwork and stories combined will be striking and meaningful, creating a much needed moment of thanks for our amazing key workers. I can’t wait to see it all come together.”
‘Paddington’ and ‘Downtown Abbey’ actor, Hugh Bonneville commented: “It’s been a very tough year for everyone, but especially for our key workers, so I am honoured to have been asked to be part of ‘Gratitude’. The project will help shine a much need light on all the hard work and dedication of our wonderful NHS and all of the other key workers across the UK.”
W1A and Bancroft actress, Sarah Parish said: “I am thrilled to be a part of ‘Gratitude’, a fantastic project which invites everyone to come together and say a big thank you to all of our wonderful key workers. I’m looking forward to seeing all the beautiful artwork and listening to all of the touching stories which will bring the installation to life.”
Nathan Wallis, Chief of Staff at Wesleyan, Location Sponsor for Gratitude Birmingham said: “We’re really excited to be a part of this fantastic initiative, which is going to celebrate our key workers in such a creative way. By bringing art to the streets of our home city of Birmingham, this installation will enable thousands of people to enjoy fantastic tributes to the NHS.”
“As a mutual, Wesleyan is committed to supporting our members and customers, many of whom have been working on the front lines during the pandemic and so we understood the importance of this project and wanted to make it an integral part of our 180th anniversary celebrations this year.”
WATCH | Dame Zandra Rhodes launches Gratitude in Birmingham:
To give people plenty of time and space to observe the installation, there will be dedicated time slots available to visit the site, therefore an allocated number of free tickets for the general public will be available to reserve for each city. Tickets for Gratitude are available now from on the official Gratitude website www.thisisgratitude.co.uk.