A carpentry student from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) has been helping to create the Sanctuary memorial, a public artwork designed by American artist David Best, that is set to be unveiled in Bedworth to honour everyone who has been affected by the pandemic.
Taran Johal, from Coventry, has been based three days per week at the workshops of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of a once-in-a-lifetime industry placement. The finished construction will be installed at Miner’s Welfare Park, Bedworth and ceremonially burned on Saturday 28 May 2022 at the culmination of a week of commemorations to those who lost their lives or their loved ones to COVID-19.
The Sanctuary project is designed to mark the recovery and regeneration of the whole community, with Bedworth having been chosen for its reputation as the ‘town that never forgets.’ The project is being managed by charity Artichoke in association with Imagineer and is supported by Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, Warwickshire County Council and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Culture Recovery Fund.
Taran said, “Working on this intricate structure which will rise to 65 feet in height when it has been installed has been fascinating and rewarding for me. The design was created in the United States, so we have been recalculating the angles and carrying out some detailed work to bring it to life here in the UK. As a carpenter, I usually work alone and mainly on domestic projects. Getting the chance to help create this completely unique and impressive artwork is beyond any carpenter’s usual experience and everyone who has seen it during the construction process has been blown away.”
Taran is currently completing his Level 3 carpentry qualification at NWSLC’s specialist construction skills Harrowbrook Campus. He said that he has found the level of tuition at the college to be ‘first class’, and he is really enjoying the course.
Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive at NWSLC said, “This has been a fantastic opportunity for Taran to work on a high-profile and impressive project that means so much to the local community and the nation. Our links with hundreds of organisations across the region enable the college to provide work experience, industry placements, and volunteering opportunities as well as matching candidates to apprenticeship vacancies.”
The Sanctuary project is offering paid and volunteer opportunities to help with the installation, decoration, and management of the structure and to act as guardians during its week-long appearance at the Miners’ Welfare Park in Bedworth. Anyone who is interested in applying to get involved can complete a registration form on the Artichoke website.
Everyone is encouraged to visit the space between 21 – 28 May 2022 to bring mementos and leave messages in the spirit of remembrance and hope.