Although COVID has not gone away, the world has finally reached a point in the pandemic where it is time to reflect on who and what we have lost, and how we could move forward together. Although many of us have mourned privately since the start of 2020, a new, rather temporary memorial designed by American artist David Best transforms the act of grappling with tragedy into a shared ritual of letting go. On May 21, Best’s work, Sanctuary, open to the public, soaring 65 feet above Miners’ Welfare Park in Bedworth, England (aptly dubbed “the town that never forgets”). An assemblage of intricate and ornately carved wooden pieces, the memorial’s dazzling design is remarkable from its base to its spire, and befits the emphasis on fascinating patterns that serve as a frequent touchstone for the monumental works of Best.
As you’d expect from an artist known for designing the huge temples in Burning Man, Sanctuary is not a typical monument. Like the projects Best is building from recycled lumber in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, this Bedworth project is an impressive collaborative feat. Some 500 members of local schools and community groups were involved in the production of the decorative panels, and students from colleges in North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire were among the 25 participants (including some from Northern Ireland) who helped to erect Sanctuary.
For Best, emphasizing such a community-building process is one of the ways in which Sanctuary stands out from his work for Burning Man. “People don’t come here like a festival,” Best says. “Because of this, the experience is more authentic, especially in terms of the interaction that takes place between the Temple Crew and the community.”