Huge art installation recognises NHS

Published Wednesday, 13 October 2021

An installation of 300 life-sized NHS inspired figures is on display at Coventry’s Coombe Abbey Park until Friday 29 October 2021.

Standing with Giants launch at Coombe Abbey Park
Bob Randell, Standing with Giants volunteer, Cllr David Welsh, Dan Barton and Emma Cosgrove, Coombe Abbey Park Manager.

Already hundreds of people have been taking a closer look at the poignant exhibition.

Jane Jones, a retired nurse from Styvechale, was one of the first visitors to the display in Coombe Abbey Park. She took a closer look at the life-sized figures with her four year old daughter Ada. She said: “It’s a wonderful display and lovely for us as a family because we lost my grandfather to COVID and weren’t allowed to see him. It was lovely to be able to leave a tribute to him.”

Following a successful launch in Oxford in July, the installation will be making its way around the country. ‘Standing with Giants’, are also fundraising for ‘NHS Charities Together’ and its community project, enabling it to take its installations on tour around the country.

Dan Barton, the Artist who founded ‘Standing with Giants’, based in Oxfordshire, said: “Hundreds of people have been visiting the exhibition at Coombe Abbey Park since the display was installed and there is already lots of interest. The installation is something I particularly wanted to do to recognise all the efforts and sacrifices of NHS staff and key workers. It’s a tribute to the people involved on the frontline of COVID, and we are still in the midst of the pandemic. It honours their courage and commitment.

“We are so excited to be visiting Coventry,” said Dan, “especially with it being the City of Culture this year.”

Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Arts in the city, said: “I’m really pleased it is here and that Coventry City Council is hosting it in such a perfect location. It’s a great public art exhibit, and here for people to come along and interact with and share their messages and feelings.

““Dan and his team have done a fantastic job. It’s beautiful and really brings the place alive and it will mean different things to different people. Some people will come to mourn a lost friend or family member or share stories and experiences.”

The unique figures are all created from upcycled composite aluminium boards and attached to steel frames. They are individually hand cut, painted and assembled, and took the team three months to produce. A team of dedicated community volunteers have worked tirelessly this summer to create the powerful tribute.

The backs of the figures are painted black to symbolise remembrance, with a white face mask to represent the harsh realities of Covid-19. When viewed from the back you will see a sea of silhouettes with face masks.

When viewed from the front you will view a sea of colourful frontline workers. Visitors are given the opportunity to write their own thoughts and reflections on the backs of the silhouettes using a (provided) paint pen – these powerful and moving messages are now part of the display and we look forward to adding to this in Coventry.

The project relies heavily on its volunteers and the generosity of others, and are always on the look-out for local volunteers to join them in helping with installing the figures or to marshall throughout the duration of the event. This is a fantastic opportunity to give back to the wonderful people who do so much for us all. If you’d like to be involved please email the organisers at [email protected].

Coventry City Council