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Shortlist announced for memorial to the victims of transatlantic slavery

  • June 11, 2024
  • 3 min read
Shortlist announced for memorial to the victims of transatlantic slavery

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a shortlist of leading artists to create the Memorial to Victims of Transatlantic Slavery. The new memorial will be the first of its scale and profile in the UK and will be located in West India Quay in London Docklands – an area whose history is closely linked with transatlantic slavery.

“London played a key role in the organisation and funding of transatlantic slavery,” said a press release from the Mayor. “However, while there are monuments commemorating abolition, and many statues and buildings reflecting the wealth and power the trade in enslaved African people created, there is little to remember the millions of African people who were enslaved and abused as a result.”

The creation of the memorial has been made possible thanks to a £500,000 funding pledge by the Mayor, and is part of the work of the Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which focused on better representation of the breadth and diversity of the capital’s population and history. It will include a learning programme to reflect the experiences and resistance of enslaved Africans and tell the story of London’s role. It will also reflect on the impact transatlantic slavery has had on generations of Black communities.

The shortlisted artists and their proposed works are:

Alberta Whittle – Echoes from beneath the deep and in between the canes includes a Caribbean-style pavilion alongside a sugarcane field and cowrie shells which are synonymous with the trade in enslaved people.  

Grada Kilomba – Archaeology of Contemplation uses the image of a boat as a metaphor of remembrance, remembering those who were transported as cargo by the British and other nations.  

Helen Cammock – Ripple is a large-scale, circular stone structure with six discoverable engraved texts in West African wood. It asks us to think about how histories resonate, reverberate and replicate – just like a ripple in water. It creates a space to reflect and learn from the generational experiences of enslaved people.

Hew Locke – Memorial for the victims of the transatlantic slave trade consists of bronze sculptures of boys and girls, carrying buildings which were built in London from money earned by the trade in enslaved people.

Khaleb Brooks – The Wake uses a large scale cowrie shell to represent the perseverance, prosperity and beauty rooted in African and African diasporic heritage. 

Zak Ové – Nana Buluku is an 11m tall and richly decorated representation of an African Queen, Nana Buluku. She is believed to be the mother of all deceased people and accompanies them during their journey to the land of the dead, preparing their souls to be born again.

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