Sandwell Council is thanking Black Country sculptor Luke Perry for the Wings and Scrubs sculpture that has honoured NHS and care workers, as the temporary installation came to an end. The four-metre tall sculpture of a winged medical worker, made from steel and other metals in Luke’s Cradley Heath factory during the spring lockdown, stood in Lightwoods Park in Bearwood since May.
The installation – featuring the inscription ‘Thank you NHS and Care Workers’ – was a private donation in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the outpouring of gratitude to health and care staff.
Luke said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the Wings and Scrubs ‘angel’. It’s unified people and provided a space and a focus for thoughts and conversations about the pandemic and the inspirational efforts of NHS and care workers.Like everyone, I have family members who owe their lives to the NHS and I wanted to create a piece of public art that captured the huge public outpouring of thanks to our health and care workers.
“We always said this would be temporary installation, as the work was not designed to be permanent. It’s therefore best to take down the sculpture now, before it begins to show signs of wear and ahead of the winter. I want people to remember it positively rather than in fading glory.
“Given it has been so well received, the council and I have seen the potential to create a permanent tribute in Sandwell and we are now looking at opportunities for this.”
The details of a potential permanent tribute, including design and location, are still to be developed, and Luke, who lives in Stourbridge, will be discussing ideas with the council and local health organisations over the coming months.
He said the materials from Wings and Scrubs will now be recycled for another project in the Black Country. Sandwell Council Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “We would like to thank Luke Perry for the wonderful Wings and Scrubs sculpture. We have been proud to have it in Sandwell.
“We look forward to discussing ideas for a potential permanent tribute with Luke and our health partners in Sandwell.We owe a huge debt of gratitude to NHS and care staff – as we do to all key workers – for their efforts, their bravery and their sacrifices.We know Covid-19 has not gone away. The virus remains a serious threat and, with rapidly rising infection rates and the winter just around the corner, our health and care workers face another very challenging time ahead.
“Please – I ask everyone – to follow all the rules and all the advice to prevent the further spread of the virus, to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our NHS, our care staff and all our key workers.”
Luke Perry’s long friendship with Oscar Nolan – a paediatric heart consultant at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital – and his conversations with Oscar about those working for the NHS were the inspiration for the temporary Wings and Scrubs installation.
The sculpture was located on the Hagley Road West side of Lightwoods Park due to it being a key commuter route used by many hospital and care workers travelling to and from Birmingham and the Black Country.