Some contemporary landscape memorials that persist over decades, augmented through time. Others have very short life-histories, especially if they relate to singular evens or short durations of commemoration or protest. What of the durability of COVID-19 memorials?
In June 2020, during the pandemic lockdown, I reported on the COVID-19 memorial shrine in Moss Valley, Wrexham, Wales.
Elsewhere, I’ve talked about COVID snake at Alyn Waters and how the painted stones have been collected and redisplayed for longer-term memorialisation after the pandemic lockdowns ended.
Recently, I walked past the site of the Moss Valley memorial to see how it was getting along. I found that while many of the stones have been removed, some remain, worn of their paint. Likewise, now bare, a wooden love-heart is still tied to the tree stump. A smiling sun with ‘stay strong’ written above beams out from the bleak brown wood.
So, there remain traces of its temporary role as a distinctive path-side landmark to express gratitude to the NHS and other keyworkers. A drab, sad, bereft monument now, it still bears signs of its 2020 memorial deployment as a shrine of gratitude. As such, it is another example of the ephemerality of contemporary landscape memorialisation.
Are other stones taken away by those who placed them there? Or are they curated elsewhere for posterity? I was struck by the sombre appearance of what remains: neither fully obliterated nor demonstrably active: a memorial in advanced decay but not yet fully gone.
“advanced decay but not yet fully gone.” It would be good if the virus gets to that position, but I think it’s doing better than the tree.