There’s a temporary exhibition in an old industrial space that looks at how mankind seeks to create an eternal memory to the dead.
From grand monuments put up by society down to the tiniest personal mementos that offer a personal connection with the person, this is a look at how we immortalize the past.
Naturally, it’s rather difficult to pick up the large monuments and ship them down to London, so their ghostly echoes fill the space. Vast diaphanous sheets hang from the ceilings, that carve out an invisible 3D map of monuments, letting you step within the monument and look out once more.
The rest is a mixture of mobile relics, slivers of memorials elsewhere, or photos.
War memorials are considered to be the largest single genre of monument in the UK, but I would argue, as shown in the display, that street names could well outnumber them.
A fragment of the AIDS Quilt is here, a memorial and political statement in one. Loving padlocks, intended to be a permanent indicator of love, but often cut off after a time by exasperated councils trying to clean the area.
The exhibition asks topical questions, about what makes someone worthy of a monument to their worthiness, or how to redress past wrongs in how women and minorities were overlooked.
The exhibition doesn’t look to the past, but the future, such as the proposed memorial to slavery which is intended to stand in Hyde Park, if permission is granted.
Another corner is given over to a recent competition to design modern monuments. Some are curious, intangible, but the most significant reflects the ongoing debate about what to do with people lauded in their time in a way that wouldn’t be allowed today.
Instead of tearing down a monument to a slave trader, one proposal is to surround his statue with a monument to the slaves he crammed into ships. Forever staring out at the people he so viciously wronged.
The exhibition is atmospherically staged in an industrial building just across the river from Parliament.
Immortalised is designed to help you look again at the memorials and statues across England. To explore how, why and who England remembers in its streets, buildings and spaces.
It’s open Wed-Sun 10am to 5pm until 16th September. Entry is free.
26 Lambeth High Street,