Published by BBC NEWS - 12th March 2024
  • Published
Princess Diana with an Aids patientImage source, Getty Images

A shortlist of artists competing to create London’s first permanent Aids memorial has been announced.

The monument will be situated near the former site of Middlesex Hospital, the UK’s first dedicated Aids ward famously opened by Princess Diana in 1987.

Campaigners hope it will pay tribute to those lost to Aids-related illnesses and help educate about the disease.

The charity behind the project, Aids Memory UK (AMUK), officially began campaigning for a memorial in 2016.

A panel of judges including AMUK trustees, art historians, and doctors specialising in Aids and HIV, as well as a board of people who represent communities affected by the Aids crisis, will select a winner from five shortlisted artists.

The five, who live or work in London, are former Turner Prize nominee Anya Gallaccio, Ryan Gander, Harold Offeh, Shahpour Pouyan and Diana Puntar.

The winning artist will be announced in June 2024 with the final memorial set to be unveiled in 2026.

It will be situated in central London, close to the hospital where the UK’s first dedicated Aids ward was opened by Princess Diana.

Her visit to Middlesex Hospital was credited with helping to challenge the belief that HIV or Aids could be transmitted by touch, after she famously shook hands with a man suffering from Aids.

A man wearing a bright red jacket sits on a couch with his arms spread out

Image source, Emile Holba

A statement released by AMUK says the memorial aims to raise awareness of the “continuing impact of HIV and Aids”, as well as celebrate those living with HIV, and those who campaigned for better care for people living with the condition.

Ash Kotak, founder and artistic director of AMUK, said the shortlist announcement was “incredibly exciting.”

He added: “It has been a long journey to get to this point of delivering the first permanent Aids Memorial in London.

“This group of acclaimed and very inspiring artists, with their diverse practices, each bring a different perspective to the memorial.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has committed £130,000 from the city’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to help fund the memorial.

He said: “I’m proud that London is leading the way in tackling HIV globally, and we are doing all we can to address the stigma related to the virus.

“This permanent memorial will ensure we remember those affected and honour the ongoing fight against HIV and Aids, and tackle the discrimination around it.”

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