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Monday, October 25, 2021
 
Waterloo Station. Credit: Network Rail

Windrush Monument artists show off their designs

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Designs have been unveiled for the government’s monument to the Windrush Generation, which is due to be placed at Waterloo station in London next year.

Four shortlisted artists, all of Caribbean heritage, have submitted their proposals to the Windrush Commemoration Committee (WCC), chaired by children’s author Baroness Floella Benjamin. The designs can be seen online in four short videos.


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After you have looked at the videos and listened to the artists explaining the background to their work, you are invited to fill in a short survey. Links to the videos, survey and privacy statement (which you have to agree to) are given below.

The questionnaire asks how much you feel each work: celebrates the Windrush Generation and their descendants; is exciting; is something you identify with; would appeal to audiences across different ages; would provide a place for reflection and connection; reflects the diversity of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.


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Jamaican-born Valda Jackson presents a man, woman and child in bronze spread out and facing in different directions on a plinth. She says they “represent the people who might feel least appreciated and most at risk of having to answer the question, ‘why are you here?’” The question was at the core of the Windrush Scandal and is still asked of present-day migrants.

US-based Basil Watson’s parents came to Britain from Jamaica in 1952. His man, woman and child, stand on some of those suitcases that feature in so many Windrush-era images of the new arrivals. As well as being highly appropriate for Waterloo station, the suitcases are arranged as a series of steps, representing upward progress. Watson says the suitcase “holds within it all things valuable”.

Thomas J Price, of mixed Jamaican and English heritage, is the only contender to give us a single figure, a woman about 12 feet high in gold-finished bronze. Although the woman is in a “casual stance”, the sheer size and glamour of the statue gives her the sort of status normally associated with powerful figures commemorated in public places.


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There’s no mistaking the Caribbean influence in Danish-Trinidadian Jeanette Ehlers’ work – a strikingly original group of three moko jumbies, whose bodies would be created from digital body scans of British people of Caribbean heritage. The sculptures would be made from bronze, aluminium and jesmonite – a gypsum-based material in acrylic resin. The moko jumbie, Ehlers reminds us, was an African spirit able to stride across the ocean to keep watch over the enslaved in the Caribbean.

The winner of this important celebration of the Caribbean contribution to Britain will be announced in Black History Month – October 2021. Remember to make your comments by 25 August.

You can also email the Windrush Commemoration Committee at windrushprojects@communities.gov.uk.


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