Mural of almost 150,000 hearts painted in London to remember Covid victims

Red hearts painted by members of bereaved families on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall opposite the Houses of Parliament at Embankment, central London, in memory of the more than 145,000 people who have died in the UK from coronavirus. Picture date: Monday March 29, 2021.
Red hearts painted by members of bereaved families on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall

A mural made up of almost 150,000 hand-drawn hearts is being painted in central London to remember the victims of the coronavirus crisis.

Organisers said that, despite its location opposite the Houses of Parliament, the Memorial Wall is not meant to be “political or antagonistic” but provide a “visual representation” of every life lost.

The hearts are being individually painted by bereaved family members and the mural is expected to stretch more than half a mile when finished.

It has been organised by the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families For Justice, who have previously called for an inquiry into the Government’s handling of the pandemic.

Matt Fowler, co-founder of the group, who lost his father to the virus, said: “Each heart is individually hand-painted (and) utterly unique, just like the loved ones we’ve lost.

“And, like the scale of our collective loss, this memorial is going to be enormous.”

A spokesman for the campaign said permission has not been given for the mural, but that Lambeth Council has been informed, and those taking part have offered to clean the area if told to do so.

“If we’re told to stop doing it, we’ll stop,” they said.

“We’re not trying to get arrested. We’ve committed to clean the site and totally restore it.

“But we’re hopeful that, with support from the council and other political quarters, it will become an official and more permanent memorial site.

“Hopefully it won’t be seen as an antagonistic political move, but we do want (the victims) front and centre.

“Boris Johnson said recently people should be able to reflect, one year on, in whatever way they thought appropriate and this is our way.”

Work on the mural is expected to last several days and the group has invited families through local networks to come and take part.

People are working in socially distanced groups of no more than six, in line with the updated coronavirus restrictions.

The spokesman added: “We’ve opened up the call to bereaved families so it wasn’t just our group down there, we wanted to make it more universal.

Mr Fowler added: “We know not everyone can come down here to see it, but we really hope this can become a focal point for remembering this national tragedy.

“We’ve placed it at the heart of our capital so that the Government never loses sight of the personal stories at the heart of all this.”