Yesterday, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, attended a service at All Saints’ Church in Child’s Hill in Barnet on its 70th anniversary, where she blessed the church’s new COVID -19 memorial artwork.
All Saints’ Church is celebrating 70 years since its reconstruction in 1952, following a severe fire destroying the building in 1940. As part of these celebrations, a new set of stained-glass style windows were dedicated and honoured in the church’s service yesterday.
The church had been awarded more than £18,000 by Barnet Council to create stained-glass style windows that draw together the different experiences of COVID-19 to celebrate and honour the dedication, sacrifice and experience of the whole Child’s Hill community, including essential workers, NHS staff and carers.
The artwork has been designed by artist Sophie Hacker through consultations and a workshop in which local people of all backgrounds, faiths and ages shared their stories of the pandemic. This included people presenting objects and words which represented their experiences of COVID-19. These objects, words and people were photographed and brought together by Hacker in her artwork, to reflect people’s memories of the pandemic ranging from the sadness and isolation of lockdown to the elation and joy of being connected again.
The windows are located on the outside of the church, facing Child’s Hill Walk, for the whole local community to view. Facing North, towards All Saints’ School, a fifth window has been constructed which represents children’s experiences of the pandemic, and includes photos ranging from deserted classrooms and online learning to school friends being reunited again.
Commenting on her visit to All Saints’ Church, Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, said:
“The pandemic impacted us all, taking away lives, health, jobs, financial security and the freedom to hug those we loved. Memorials such as ‘All The Saints’ help us remember the sacrifices made by friends, family, NHS staff and carers, and whole local communities during this period.”
“Sophie is an incredibly talented artist and it was a pleasure to see her artwork first-hand yesterday. Her COVID-19 memorial brings together the variety of emotions felt by the local community over the past two and half years including grief and isolation as well as relief and excitement. Created after a workshop Sophie held with members of the community, it reflects how together we can be a window through which the grace of God can shine.
“I would like to thank All Saints’ Church for hosting this wonderful service and give praise to Sophie for producing such moving artwork.”
Priest in Charge of All Saints’ Church, the Revd Robin Sims-Williams added:
“It was great to see members from all parts of the local community come together for our church’s 70th anniversary celebrations and to view Sophie’s outstanding memorial. These new windows will provide people with the opportunity to come and reflect on their own diverse and complex experiences of the pandemic and help them to process these in their own way.
“All Saints’ Church has always sought to be a place where the whole community of Child’s Hill feels cherished and and we hope that this memorial, open to everyone, allows local residents to honour those in our local area who we have lost from COVID-19 and thank those who sacrificed so much for us during this period.
“I would like to thank Bishop Sarah for attending our service yesterday and would welcome all those in the local area and across London to come and visit the memorial.”
The artist behind the memorial, Sophie Hacker, commented:
‘I have been delighted to work with the community of Child’s Hill. Their openness in sharing their stories made my work a joy. The many fragments that make up my windows are just a fraction of what could be said about the pandemic but I hope everyone will find something in the images which reflects their own experience.”