Ahead of presenting Luke Jerram’s In Memoriam at Aston Park this week in association with BrumYODO, a host of community activities have been taking place.

BrumYODO’s Community Engagement Coordinator Debbie Kerslake tells us about a special flag making project in the build up to In Memoriam opening.

In Memoriam is an outdoor installation featuring 120 flags made from bedsheets, to commemorate those who have died from COVID-19 and to pay tribute to NHS and other health care workers. Alongside our presentation of the artwork, we have developed a flag-making project and are inviting people of all ages across Birmingham to make their own flags at home or at school, inspired by In Memoriam. Flags can be made from paper, fabric, and other easy-to-gather materials.

On a sunny day in the shadow of the tower blocks in Ladywood, we set up tables outside Ladywood Community Centre. Having promoted the fact we would be making flags to those coming for food parcels at the Food Hub, we were unsure how many, if any would arrive, but after just a few minutes parents started to arrive with their young children.

The children quickly engaged, choosing how they would decorate their own flags including what colours, shapes, and words to use. Guided by local artist Margaret Murray, they cut out butterflies and flowers, drew pictures and stuck on stickers. At one point there was total silence as the children concentrated so hard on drawing, colouring, cutting out and sticking! The children’s excitement grew as they were helped to attach their pictures to canes and their flags were ready to display.

The children at Ladywood Food Hub produced flags that couldn’t fail to make you smile. They decorated them with hearts, flowers, and stars. One little boy drew a beach and the sea, one little girl used the word ‘shine’, a little boy wrote ‘beautiful’, while another wrote ‘flowers’, ‘stars’, ‘sun’ and ‘water’. People passing stopped to admire the flags the children had made.

It was only afterwards that I learnt that all those who had taken part were Somalian and Afghan refugees. The children took their In Memoriam flags home with them, ready to proudly display in their homes and to show to their schools and nurseries after the Easter holiday.

As more and more individuals, schools and community groups take up the invite to make flags inspired by In Memoriam, I’m looking forward to seeing more great flags across Birmingham.

I hope these children have inspired you or your children to have a go at our flag-making activity – for more details, you can view our our flag making tutorial here.”