Call for help to create ‘striking’ art tribute to Covid-19 NHS and key workers

An open call has gone out for artists and sponsors to help bring to life a “striking tribute” to the vital work of NHS staff and key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A glimpse of the planned public art trail, named Gratitude – which will eventually feature 49 human-form sculptures, was revealed on Wednesday.

Three of the unique free-standing figures – painted by Birmingham artists Amrit Singh, Jess Perrin and Nisha Grover – were unveiled at the city’s museum and art gallery, as the campaign to gather support begins.

The fully completed installation will open in Birmingham on the NHS’s official birthday, July 5, next year.

The sculptures will then go on a free-to-visit tour across the UK and Northern Ireland, including locations in Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London.

Gratitude art installation
Gratitude art installation

The thinking behind the free-standing nature of the sculpted figures is to reflect how NHS and key workers have been “standing together, but apart”, according to the public art producer behind the scheme, Wild In Art.

Once the UK tour is finished, the sculptures will be auctioned off to benefit NHS Charities Together, supporting hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental healthcare providers and other health partnerships.

Wild In Art is looking to repeat the success of its previous public art trails, including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascot trail, the award-winning Bee in the City in Manchester and The Big Hoot and The Big Sleuth trails in Birmingham.

Charlie Langhorne, Wild In Art managing director and co-founder, said: “Gratitude will be a beautiful and striking tribute that celebrates the incredible courage and dedication of the UK’s NHS staff and key workers and supports the vital work of NHS Charities Together.”

He added the installation would be a 3D sculpture trail aiming “to take visitors on a journey of discovery”.

Describing the project a “landmark event”, Ellie Orton, NHS Charities Together chief executive, said: “As the NHS works tirelessly to provide and advance normal medical care and intervention, alongside dealing with horrific reality of Covid-19, we will continue to say thank you and give back to all NHS staff, volunteers and key workers who go above and beyond for us.

“Our Gratitude art project is a fantastic way for businesses to step forward and get involved, together we can continue to support NHS staff, volunteers and patients who are impacted in so many different ways by this dreadful virus.”

Anyone interested in the project should visit www.wildinart.co.uk/gratitude