AIDS Memorial Concerns Continue

WA AIDS MemorialDisagreements are continuing over the maintenance and future care of the WA AIDS Memorial. Community Group the Order of Perpetual Indulgence are calling for a red ribbon, the international symbol of the fight against HIV/AIDS to be included in the memorial’s design, for the memorial to be legally registered as ‘The WA AIDS Memorial’ rather than be a non-AIDS identifying environmental art work owned by the City of Vincent and for the community to have a role its future care.

Concern was raised last year that over many years the memorial had fallen into disrepair. Since then the City of Vincent (COV) has agreed to repair the Memorial’s lighting, water feature alongside upgrading the surrounding gardens and adding seating to the area.

Mother Gretta from the Sister’s of Perpetual Indulgence acknowledged the work carried out so far, ‘Some good work has been done by COV so far in repairing the Memorial.’

Mother Gretta has proposed that the next step required is for the art work to be legally registered as the WA AIDS Memorial.  As there is concern that as an environmental artwork the site does not have the legal status of a memorial and therefore could be demolished without any consultation with the Community. The Order has called on the City of Vincent to ensure that stakeholders and the HIV positive community are properly included in all future decisions about the memorial.

Mother Gretta says he is disappointed that the Council are suggesting that the design team who designed the memorial are resisting calls for the internationally recognised AIDS red ribbon to be added to the work or anywhere on the site and asks why the site hasn’t been legally registered as the WA AIDS Memorial.

‘A red ribbon would represent the names of the hundreds of people who died of AIDS and the community who fund raised for the memorial which it is supposed to represent. As it is there is no visual symbols or signage to attract visitors that identifies the art work as the WA AIDS Memorial’, said Mother Gretta.

James Rendell the Vice Chairperson of People Living with HIV/AIDS WA Inc is concerned about the process being used to discuss the memorial and its future ownership,

‘I am concerned that the undocumented meeting processes which are being used to conduct discussions about the WA AIDS Memorial seems to give the appearance of being undemocratic and lacking in transparency. My personal view is that I heard the tin rattlers and red ribbon sellers ask, “Please donate to build the WA AIDS Memorial.” I did not hear them say “Please give us money to build an environmental artwork for the Town of Vincent.”’

Gary Giles who was one of the coordinators of the original project has a different perspective, noting that the project was always envisaged as a work of art. While the initial idea was to create something in the City of Perth, the Town of Vincent was more supportive of the project. Fundraising for the work began in the early 1990s but it was nearly a decade later that project became a reality.

The design of the memorial was selected through a combination of public feedback and an expert panel that included representatives from the positive community as well as art consultants from the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and the WA Art Gallery. Giles recalls that some of the designs considered included the red ribbon, but the winning design put forward by Rodney Glick in collaboration with Diego Ramirez and Kieran Wong did not.

While the team behind the design of the memorial are not in favour of adapting the work to include a red ribbon, they do support the installation of additional signage nearby that uses the motif.

The Mayor of the City of Vincent Allanah MacTiernan explained that the city is supportive of adding prominent signage that includes the red ribbon to the area to increase awareness about the memorial but argues that it is important to respect the wishes of the artist who created the memorial.

The Mayor also welcomed increased community involvement in the care and future planning for the memorial suggesting the formation of a community group who are ‘Friends of the Memorial’ would be welcomed.