The collection of UK AIDS Quilts were made between 1989 and 1996 to commemorate friends, lovers and family members who passed away from an AIDS related illness during this time. You can zoom in to some of the specific details listed below.
The left centre panel remembers Mark, a member of the Young Communist League and Communist Party. In a letter dated 28 August 1986, Mark wrote: “I came to socialist politics through struggle in my everyday life, and not a theoretical struggle which needs to be explained in order for people to understand how they are shit on, but a real daily struggle which is visible, all pervading and manifests itself through intimidation, violence, discrimination against me as an individual.’ And in an article in 7 Days in April 1986, he described what it was like to be gay, ‘Up until now our problems discrimination, repression, guilt, violence, anxiety and ridicule have been surmountable, either through excesses of bravado or retreat into camp… But AIDS. This is frightening because, unlike all the other threats, trials and tribulations which are part and parcel of our daily lives, we aren’t yet sure how to respond. We could be infected by the virus from our lovers; should we be infected we could go on to develop AIDS, and if we develop AIDS we will probably die.” Mark went on to found Lesbians and Gays support the Miners in 1984/5, which raised over £22,000 for miners and their families, as well as battling ongoing prejudices. After his death the Communards dedicated their album ‘Red’ to Mark. everyone who knew him thought he was great.
The bottom left panel remembers Michael Buckland. He was a big lover of music and flowers, especially roses, his two cats Tiger and Poppers were his pride and joy.
His mother remembered him with this poem:
I gave you life, you were my precious first borne,
And through your life you brought me so much joy.
We shared a special love right from that first dawn,
No Mother ever had a better boy.
You lived a bright and carefree, full existence,
No one could tell what troubles lay ahead,
Each moment filled with laughter, and insistence
That life was good, there was no need for dread.
You bore your pain in such a noble fashion,
You never were a one to shirk a task,
Trod the stony path with courage and compassion
Some help along the way was all you asked.
Now your long drawn battle is concluded,
But others still must carry on the fight,
To conquer the dark foe, help the deluded
To understand, and put the problems right.
I watched you go, knew there was no returning,
The sword of grief then sliced my soul apart.
Hot tears I shed, and in my breast was burning
An anger that solidified my heart.
The time will come when we shall meet again dear,
Meanwhile, the tears and sorrow I shall hide.
Remembering the fun, and all the good years,
And always think of you with loving pride.’
The bottom left corner panel remembers Peter Andrew Ryan. Peter often faced problems equating his Catholicism with his homosexuality, considering entering orders to help repress his sexuality. He was initially refused a pension on the grounds of his homosexuality and disease, but after legal action he received an entitlement for his final months. He was a fanatical follower of Carlton Football Club, represented on the quilt design.
Peter Andrew Ryan - Starlight Express - Elaine - Michael Buckland - Robbie Del Balio - David John Phillips - Mark Ashton - Farouk
Zoom in and see all the details on Google Arts & Culture page.