Designed as a tribute of thanks to NHS staff and key workers, ‘Gratitude’ will comprise 49 human form sculptures to represent key workers and the ethos of standing together during the pandemic, and will tour the UK this summer.
Launching in Birmingham on 5th July, the NHS’s official birthday, the artwork will also be on display in Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London, with the location in the Scottish capital still to be decided.
‘Gratitude’ is to be created by global public art producers, Wild in Art, whose previous work includes the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascot trail. They are currently inviting businesses and private individuals to sponsor a sculpture, each one a different design from artists and designers across the UK, aiming to reflect the stories and themes of the year of Covid 2020.
These will be auctioned later in the year with proceeds donated to NHS Charities Together (Registered Charity Number 1186569), which supports the NHS, including its hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental healthcare providers and vital partnerships.
Named as official Creative Ambassador and project spokesperson of ‘Gratitude’, Dame Zandra Rhodes with her shocking pink hair and flamboyant fashion designs, has long been a champion of street style and has stamped her style on fashion across the globe in her 50-year career. Dressing everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Barbra Streisand and Diana, Princess of Wales, she introduced an edgy punk element to couture creations and has been at the top of the fashion world since the 1960s. Collaborations include Valentino, Topshop and Mac Cosmetics and 2021 will see the launch of Zandra Rhodes x IKEA collection.
Talking about ‘Gratitude’, the founder of The Fashion and Textile Museum in the early 2000s in London said: “2020 has been a hard year for many. The Gratitude project is allowing myself and like-minded artists and creatives to give back to our valued and amazing NHS staff and other key workers in the form of art.
“It is an extremely poignant message for me to spread as this year I was diagnosed with a tumor, and was given the medical assistance I needed to get back to good health. What better way to give back by collaborating and designing for such an important cause!”
As part of her role, Rhodes is looking for open submissions from creatives from across the UK and will curate the chosen designs with the Wild in Art team. She will also be designing her own statue, in her trademark eye-catching and colourful style.
“It is always so fun to work in 3D on projects like this,” she says. “It really brings my patterns and colour sense to life. It will also be so exciting to see other artists' submissions and how different people will adapt the brief.”
As well as high profile names like Rhodes, Gratitude will see emerging artists and designers getting the chance to showcase their work in the installation.
“This is imperative, especially in today’s climate,” says Rhodes. “The art industries are struggling and projects like Gratitude provide a much needed platform for creative minds to get their work seen and appreciated especially when promoting a good cause”.
In selecting the designs to be included Rhodes was in no doubt what her criterion will be: “Colour of course! We are celebrating and thanking our key workers and I think with all the doom and gloom we have had this year it would be great to see lots of colour incorporated within the submissions.”
Charlie Langhorne, managing director and co-founder of Wild in Art said: “This is going to be a once in a lifetime piece of collaborative public art, which will pay tribute to our amazing NHS staff and all key workers, and we look forward to Zandra bringing her inimitable style and vast experience to the project.”
Businesses interested in sponsoring a sculpture should contact Julie Gaskell, Head of Partnerships, Wild in Art on 07768 038912, email [email protected]
Artists interested in creating a sculpture should register their interest at thisisgratitude.co.uk