Londoners are divided over a new monument celebrating the Windrush generation – the capital’s first public display in memory of the Caribbean community that had moved to the UK since 1948.
The sculpture, unveiled in Hackney, depicts three Caribbean fruits and vegetables: custard apple, breadfruit and sourdough.
Designed by Montserrat-born British artist Veronica Ryan, it faced criticism on social media, with some calling it an “empty gesture”, while many of the Windrush generation were still awaiting compensation over the scandal in which Many were wrongfully detained or deported. A new home office policy.
Granthshala Spoke to Hackney residents, who were both excited and left with questions after the memorial was installed.
‘This is our heritage’
Photographer and lifelong Hackney resident, Crispian Blaise, told Granthshala that the monument was beautiful and believes it can help educate students about their Caribbean roots.
Mr Blaise, of Dominican and Nigerian descent, said: “It is the legacy of many people in the region.”
“For me, it is a great thing to have fruit from our heritage here because it is still being exported here and it is still playing a big part of people’s lives and it brings a lot of happiness.”
In response to criticisms about the monument, Mr Blaise said: “I don’t know what they could have kept instead?”
Mr. Blaise’s mother, who was said to be referred to simply as Cecilia, has lived in the area for four decades. She was taking photos this afternoon besides the monument, which she called a fine reminder of Caribbean heritage and a sign that Hackney is “up.”
Hackney resident Pete Burke, 27, also supported the monument’s sustainability, saying its colors attracted him to it.
“I think they’re in a good place … it’s a communal area for people,” Mr Burke said.
“If they’re here to stay I think it’s great for Hackney. It belongs to the Windrush generation which is fantastic and you don’t get a lot in art, it’s a very overlooked area of art – It’s been pretty male-dominated because god knows how long.
The Empire Windrush brought in hundreds of West Indians to help rebuild Britain after the war, and many settled in London. Breadfruit, custard apple and soursop are all popular foods in the Caribbean diet and have been consumed in the region for hundreds of years, and are still enjoyed by the UK’s Caribbean population today.
Artist Thomas J. Another sculpture by Price celebrating the Windrush Generation is to be unveiled on June 22 next year to mark National Windrush Day.
Caribbean-born administrator Bianca Odie, who lives in Hackney, said the monument left her confused.
“I am glad it acknowledges the Windrush generation and kudos to the arts but something more could have been done to represent black people,” said Ms. Odie Granthshala.
He said a plaque detailing how the Windrush generation helped support Britain after the war could have been a more appropriate memorial.
Ms. Odie’s sentiment echoed on social media.
One user on Twitter wrote: “People have died waiting for compensation, people were unfairly deported, never given a return. But all is well! Here are some grapes to say thank you. ”
Another addition: “For art purposes I get it. But where people are still waiting for compensation, it is a slap in the face.”
Importance of cultural visibility
At the unveiling of the monument, which is part of Hackney Council’s focus on the Windrush generation, artist Veronica Ryan emphasized the importance of cultural visibility and representation in public spaces.
“Ridley Market in Hackney continues to be a lively place of early excitement to shop with my mother I no longer find at the market often, but have been very happy to have bought some lovely sour and custard apples on recent visits,” Ms. Ryan said.
“I like the fact that the community in Hackney will see some of the familiar fruits and vegetables depicted in sculptures, and will always enjoy these connections.”
Edwin Kumasaru, historian of modern and contemporary art, visiting the exhibition Granthshala He also frequently holds public memorials to “powerful white men”.
“I think it’s based on the ecological history of empire and migration. Both are metaphors of seed and fruit, but the language of hostile environments and the history of extracting plant specimens or building plantation systems in the British Empire,” said Dr. Kumasaru .
He said the compensation being paid to the victims of the Windrush incident is important, but does not oppose artists having a place in Britain to celebrate the history of the Caribbean people.
Additionally, on criticisms that a separate memorial might be in memory of Windrush, Dr. Kumasaru said, “The big question is…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /