Anya Gallaccio Selected As Artist For London’s AIDS Memorial 

Anya Gallaccio

London, June 12, 2024—AIDS Memory UK has announced that the renowned artist Anya Gallaccio has been selected to create The AIDS Memorial in London. This poignant monument will be located on South Crescent, Store Street in Fitzrovia, and will take the form of a felled tree, symbolizing both remembrance and resilience for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Gallaccio’s design features a tree trunk with rings extracted from its core and displayed upright nearby. This hollowed trunk invites interaction and engagement, serving as a stark reminder of the lives lost to HIV/AIDS. The memorial aims to offer a space for reflection, solidarity, and community events, echoing the enduring impact of the epidemic.

Anya Gallaccio Selected As Artist For London’s AIDS Memorial
Anya Gallaccio Selected As Artist For London’s AIDS Memorial

AIDS Memory UK emphasizes the ongoing effects of HIV/AIDS, particularly within four key communities: gay and bisexual men, Black African communities, individuals with bleeding disorders, and injecting drug users. The memorial’s creation is backed by a £130,000 contribution from the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, secured by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Anya Gallaccio, known for her site-specific installations using organic materials, brings her unique artistic vision to this project, marking her first permanent public commission in London. Gallaccio’s recent works have focused on permanence, transforming organic objects into lasting forms. This autumn, Turner Contemporary in Margate will showcase her largest survey exhibition to date, preserve. Gallaccio’s contributions to the art world have been significant, with previous exhibitions at The Whitworth, Manchester, and Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh.

Commenting on her design, Gallaccio stated, “The tree is a symbol of life. The planes that line the street side of the crescent are everywhere in the city, for good reason—they withstand pollution. They are survivors, living despite their environment, a clunky but perhaps fitting metaphor for those living with HIV and AIDS. Hidden in plain sight.”

Gallaccio was chosen from a shortlist of five artists by a panel of judges, including prominent figures like artist Rana Begum, writer and director Neil Bartlett, and curator Michael Morris. The selection process also involved consultations with the Affected Communities Advisory Board, ensuring that the memorial resonates deeply with those most impacted by the epidemic.

Speaking on behalf of the AMUK Selection Panel, Michael Morris described Gallaccio’s design as “a monumental expression of loss and resilience, merging the horizontal trunk with vertical rings to poignantly memorialize the AIDS crisis.”

AIDS Memory UK Founder Ash Kotak hailed the announcement as a major milestone in the campaign to deliver The AIDS Memorial. “Now is the time for Londoners and friends of this great city to come together to fundraise and build this important new public artwork,” Kotak said. “It will survive longer than all of us and remain a tribute to the epoch we are all living through.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan supported this: “Anya’s proposal is a powerful symbol of solidarity and a fitting way to honour those who have lost their lives to the virus.”

The chosen site for the memorial is historically significant, located near the former Middlesex Hospital, home to the UK’s first ward dedicated to HIV/AIDS care. This ward, opened by Princess Diana in 1987, became a symbol of compassion and change in public perception of the disease.

Set for unveiling at the end of 2027, Gallaccio will develop the AIDS Memorial further. AIDS Memory UK is planning a series of events to raise funds and highlight the need for this vital tribute. The memorial promises to be a lasting testament to the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS and a beacon of hope and remembrance for all.

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