The UK AIDS Memorial Quilt is a precious artefact. Each of the panels commemorates lives lost to the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s and 90s. It is a public naming of the names of loved ones lost, and a memorial for the many who died and went unnamed too. The UK quilt is part of an international movement that sought to raise awareness of the impact of the AIDS epidemic and ensure that these lives would never be forgotten. It is both a shout of protest at the needless loss of life, and a celebration of the lives commemorated. It is a reminder that HIV is still with us and that lives are still lost. It is a call to action to do all we can to eradicate this disease completely. 

The display contains 12ft by 12ft large panels, each comprising up to eight smaller panels. Each individual panel commemorates someone who died of AIDS and has been lovingly made by their friends, lovers or family members. Lives remembered include those of the writer, Bruce Chatwin; the artist/film maker Derek Jarman; the actors, Ian Charleson and Denham Elliot; gay rights activist, Mark Ashton and the photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe.

In addition, touching testimonials, photos and personal document accompany many of the individual quilt panels, brining to life the stories of the people commemorated. The quilts represent approximately 384 people from all around the world.

The quilt reminds us how far we've come in the fight against HIV - it no longer has to stop you living a long and healthy life - but there is still much to be done.

Our Community Engagement Manager went along to see the UK AIDS Memorial Quilts with her husband, here are some of her thoughts.

"I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I booked in the tickets but immediately thought this would be a very interesting and a thought provoking thing to visit, especially working for a charity that raises funds for HIV awareness and prevention.

To be honest, I had in mind the quilts would be a few pieces of fabric that could be viewed in a glass cabinet. When I arrived I soon realised I was completely wrong, the entire exhibition of the quilts was spread over 5 floors with audio caption to listen into on some. As we started on the top floor, it was a one way system due to Covid, we were in awe not only of the messages and stories we started to read but the beauty of the quilts themselves. The display contained 12ft by 12ft large panels, each comprising up to eight smaller panels. The colours, textures and fabrics were something to see in themselves and it really hit home reading the messages from friends, family, loved ones of those that had been lost, all far too soon. As we moved through the exhibition we found ourselves rather tearful as we continued to read the messages. Young women, men and children all lost too young. Coming from a generation after the AIDS pandemic hit I felt it was a real and poignant reminder that although we have come a long way in the fight against HIV, there is still much to be done. A sad yet informative day out that highlights the important work Wandsworth Oasis continues to carry out. "