Shortlist revealed for planned £1m Windrush monument in London

A series of proposals for a monument to the Windrush generation have been unveiled, with one of four entries, which include bronze statues of families standing on their suitcases and stilt-walking figures, expected to be unveiled at Waterloo station next year.

An online public consultation has been launched calling for opinions on the state-funded £1m scheme, first announced in 2019 as part of the government’s attempts to atone for the Windrush scandal.

One of the shortlisted artists, Basil Watson, proposed a family group climbing on their luggage and surveying their new country. “This suitcase holds within it everything that this family has in their possession, coming from their place of origin, the Caribbean,” he said. “I feel privileged that I now have this opportunity to express the aspirations, vision and courage of my parents who took the long sea voyage to England in 1952 as part of that Windrush generation in search of a brighter future.”

The artist Thomas J Price, who was recently commissioned by Hackney council in London to create a permanent sculpture honouring the Windrush generation, has proposed a single statue of a 12ft woman in raw, golden bronze, describing the modern-looking figure in a casual pose. Like all the shortlisted artists, Price is of Caribbean descent. “Here we will have someone in front of us, being liked and being powerful and being celebrated,” he said. “As the child of a Jamaican father and English mother I have for many years been making artworks that seek to examine the notion of monumental sculpture and address the imbalance of representation within society.”

Valda Jackson, who proposed a group of three scattered individuals, cast in bronze, hopes travellers will rest on the base of the statue to contemplate the figures. “I want to place on a platform the image of people who might feel least appreciated, most at risk of having to answer the question: ‘Why are you here?’ This child sitting at the end of platform is very significant. There is a space for you to sit next to the child,” she said.

Jeannette Ehlers would create figures made using digital body scans of 12 people from different Commonwealth Caribbean islands, and will place them on stilts, with a nod to the moko jumbies, the fictional figures “who came from Africa and looked after the enslaved”. She hopes to “bring to the fore the importance of African-Caribbean presence and narratives in the public space.”

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