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Students repaint hearts at the National COVID Memorial Wall

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Two figures standing at wall overpainting hearts
Two figures standing at wall overpainting hearts
BA Graphic Communication student painting the National COVID Memorial Wall (Photo: Ellen Huynh)
Written by
Teleri Lloyd-Jones
Published date
28 April 2022

In collaboration with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice and activists Led By Donkeys, students from our Graphic Communication Design programme repainted the memorial for those who died from COVID-19, helping to set it in perpetuity.

The Memorial Wall was begun in March 2021 by those who’d lost loved ones to COVID-19 and wanted to publicly commemorate them. There are now over 150,000 pink and red hearts painted on the wall and the mural stretches 500m.

Over three days, students volunteered to repaint thousands of hearts giving the memorial a coat of weather-resistant paint transforming it into a permanent monument.

The COVID Memorial Wall is a public space that has been used to remember and respect loved ones who lost their lives due to COVID. Over time the hearts on the wall faded and it's essential to maintain such a space with dignity which is why I am here with my peers to restore it.

— Zainab Goriawala, student
  • IMG_0091.jpg
    , BA Graphic Communication student painting the National COVID Memorial Wall (Photo: Ellen Huynh)
  • IMG_6011.jpg
    , BA Graphic Communication student painting the National COVID Memorial Wall
  • IMG_6123.jpg
    , BA Graphic Communication student painting the National COVID Memorial Wall
  • IMG_0105.jpg
    , BA Graphic Communication student painting the National COVID Memorial Wall (Photo: Ellen Huynh)

Working collaboratively and with real-world impact, the experience also allowed participants to consider the relationship between mark-making, memory, place and power. The wall sits on the river Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament. “I feel like the location of this is very visceral,” reflects student Puthimart Naothaworn, “it's right next to where all the decisions are made… I think that it's good to take part in something when you have the opportunity, especially if it can have an impact."

I find this memorial very touching because I know that it wasn't proposed by the government but by the people and there's something very intimate about it. And in order to really feel the scope and effect, you have to see just how long it is, how many hearts there are and that's when it really hits you. That's when you realise how every heart here symbolises a life. I think it's powerful. It's very simple and straight to the point and there's something very beautiful about that

— Didara Abdirakhman, student