Twelve months ago, The Herald initiated and led a campaign for a memorial to create a place for people to remember and reflect following the loss of loved ones to covid and for those affected by the pandemic.

greenspace scotland has been working with The Herald covid memorial steering group on the campaign and is managing the artist engagement commission.

Today, the campaign has reached a significant milestone with the appointment of an artist to lead an engagement process that will reach out to communities and individuals to help create a fitting tribute which could go on to have a ripple effect across Scotland.

Renowned Scottish artist Alec Finlay has been appointed to lead the project through this significant next stage of the campaign to create Scotland’s covid memorial in the grounds of Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park.

Alec Finlay brings a wealth of experience having worked on previous public art projects which also touch on a sensitive nature and having had covid himself he is all too aware of the impact this devastating virus has had on people’s lives. His project team includes Lucy Richards, inclusive designer, and writer Ken Cockburn.

“I felt excited and calm when I was asked to take this on,” said the Edinburgh-based artist whose previous work includes similar commissions, such as the National Organ and Tissue Donor Memorial. “It is a very daunting commission in terms of its historic importance because of the pandemic and I really feel The Herald has found the right site. Pollok Park is the perfect site and there is also a satellite concept which is really exciting - the idea of a memorial that is in lots of places has no equivalent.

“I had quite a difficult life, becoming ill with ME at the age of 21, but it gave me a skills set in empathy, creativity and adaptation and when I saw the opportunity I thought I want to do to that. Having long covid and only being able to walk 150 metres, I know the impact of this, and I want people with long covid to see that someone can still achieve.”

In the coming weeks Alec Finlay will be reaching out to communities and individuals affected by the pandemic to gather thoughts and feelings and will be hosting workshops.

Julie Procter, chief executive of greenspace scotland and memorial steering group member, managed the engagement recruitment process. She said: "The response to the commission was overwhelming and we are grateful to all of the artists for their contributions. Alec Finlay’s proposal resonated so strongly, and we felt that in Alec, and his team of Lucy Richards and Ken Cockburn, we had found the right artistic team who could sensitively and creatively reach out to engage with communities and individuals across Scotland.”

Donald Martin, editor-in-chief of The Herald, said having Alec Finlay and his team join the memorial campaign was a significant step forward: “As we approach the first anniversary of the campaign to create a memorial to Scots lost to covid and a place where people can find solace and comfort, today is an important milestone. We are delighted to have an artist of Mr Finlay’s calibre and experience on board. I am sure he will help us to deliver a memorial that truly reflects what people have gone through during the pandemic and will be a fitting legacy for those to remember for generations to come.”

Read the article in The Herald