Published Friday 20 October 2023 at 10:46
On the first anniversary of the installation of Blackburn with Darwen’s pandemic memorial benches, a local artist renowned for her surreal collages and paintings is helping put them on the map – literally!
Alexandra Gallagher’s artwork has been added to a special interactive map that shows where all 17 of the benches, installed in October 2022, are located.
Using What3Words technology to pinpoint locations to within three square metres, the map helps users find the benches which are inscribed with lines of poetry written by local residents during the Covid pandemic.
Using the interactive map allows people to read the poems in full.
The new map has been created with the help of local design agency Source Creative, which regularly works with Alexandra Gallagher.
Their artwork is currently displayed on eye-catching hoardings outside Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery and at Blakey Moor Terrace where extensive regeneration work is taking place.
Alexandra used old postcards from Blackburn Library archives combined with her distinctive dreamlike artwork to create a series of images of local landmarks. These are being used by the Council as part of their place promotion branding in Blackburn town centre.
Alexandra, who lives locally and has family connections to Blackburn, recently visited one of the pandemic memorial benches at Guide recreation area.
The kids from Newfield School put so much effort into creating the poem on this bench. It speaks about how we all felt at that time going through the pandemic, and all the different aspects of going through that time – with the little quirks of wearing masks, not being able to go out and play with friends, not being able to go shopping, that kind of thing. It’s something that all of us went through.
It’s a real privilege to be asked to link my artwork to the memorial benches, for the creativity of the poetry and the arts. It’s really lovely.
Now that we’ve got the map, I’m hoping to spend a day or two going out finding the benches, seeing them in their areas.
Watch Alexandra talking about the bench project and her artwork being linked to the project.
Discover the locations of all 17 pandemic memorial benches using the interactive map at bit.ly/mapbwdbenches
Coun Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, commented:
These benches form the borough’s memorial to the Covid pandemic. While a functional piece of street furniture, the messages on the benches help to encourage positive thought around the ways we coped during the lockdowns, and the power of the great outdoors for wellbeing – something that we know is important whether we’re in a pandemic or not.
Already lots of local people have visited the benches and scanned the QR code that tells them more about the project. I’m pleased that we have been able to publish the new map ahead of the school half term break, and hope it will encourage more people to seek out their nearest memorial bench. Fingers crossed for some good weather!