Artwork Arrives in Tollcross to Mark Reported Covid Deaths Across the UK

As lockdown is being eased, Edinburgh based artist Andrew Brooks brings an artwork to a gallery in Lauriston Gardens in the Tollcross area of Edinburgh that aims to encourage reflection on the pandemic. The work makes a single mark for each of the 145,652 deaths reported across the UK and will be made over 52 performances by Brooks in the space, with each performance representing a single week’s statistics.

Brooks said, “There are two elements to the artwork: the physical piece with the marks made on the paper and also the performance of me in the space making the work – I do it in silence and on my own. The performance of this is very much the work part of the work and is just as important as the paper.

“The act of remembrance is very important in the way that I have gone about constructing this, attempting to recognise each one of those deaths. Understanding what one hundred and forty-five thousand marks looks like and how much time it takes to make those. I try and be as considered as possible when I make a mark because that is somebody – that is somebody’s family member, somebody’s friend and it’s somebody’s life that’s ended.

“When you think about the statistics it easily gets abstracted away but I’m doing this to make it physical and make it so that it can’t be avoided. It’s a visualization that really makes you understand what’s happened, over a hundred and forty-five thousand deaths, you have to realise that this is something to get angry about.

“The impetus for this was anger and that’s what’s fed it. It’s anger at Westminster and at central government. I’ve felt that they haven’t been decisive, they haven’t made strong decisions, there has been a lot of waste, that has resulted in over a hundred thousand deaths. This is a protest piece, this is my version of holding up a placard and standing out in the street – this is my concerted silent protest.

“Art can have many roles in society, and one of those is definitely protest and this is my protest.”

After the project was seen on Instagram, Andrew was approached  to document the process of making the work by documentary film maker Dave MacFarlane of DMtwo Media who commented, “This recent filming project is one of those that come along and you can’t help but take notice. The subject matter, the artistic concept and the wider social impact were all key factors in wanting to produce this short documentary”.

The project began online on 13thMarch 2021, the one-year anniversary of the first reported deaths in the UK, and  will be completed on 13th May 2021.

Toll, the statistics for which were obtained from the appropriate bodies across the UK,  will be exhibited at Concrete Block Gallery, Undercroft, 15 Lauriston Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 9HH  on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th May between 11am and 5pm with bookings available via Eventbrite.

Irene Brown

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