Green woman statue

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the November issue of the Black & Asian Heritage Mix’. Some think tanks would have people believe that the majority of Britain’s cultural heritage (e.g. statues, plaques, street names) is changing without “due process”. In reality, as you will see below, Cecil Rhodes’s statue is still in Oxford and many other memorials are “retained and explained”, whether it is Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville’s or H.M Stanley’s statue.

Schools are still campaigning for the removal of a statue of Sir Robert Geffrye and only 53 speaking engagements were refused of 59,574 events proposed at higher education institutions in recent years. Also, only 2% of English Heritage blue plaques in London commemorate black people, even though grassroot activists are still campaigning for some to be considered.

The recent return of looted Benin Bronzes by Cambridge College and the University of Aberdeen was widely reported, but what is less known is that Liverpool Museums have only recently redeveloped the World Cultures Gallery to create a more inclusive Benin display and that the British Museum’s refusal to return Benin Bronzes is seen as hiding behind the Museum Act.

As for the National Trust, despite the media frenzy, issues relating to slavery and colonialism is only a “tiny part” of what the trust actually does. According to the Guardian, membership of the National Trust is actually growing, despite accusations by the Restore Trust of losing members as a result of the trust’s “woke” agenda.

COP 26 summit has just started in Glasgow and environmental campaigners like George Monbiot and occupiers of the Science Museum remind us that sponsorship of cultural institutions by oil companies is not without consequences. In London, Somerset House’s new exhibition on climate change seeks to give a voice to artists from the global majority.

Happy Reading!

Thushari Perera

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EVENTS

Somerset House Climate change

Somerset House Exhibition: “We Are History: Race, Colonialism & Climate Change” (16 October 2021 – 6 February 2022)

“The exhibition, which opens to coincide with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, spotlights the works of 11 artists with personal connections to countries in the Caribbean, South America and Africa, bringing to the fore the perspectives of their communities, not as an afterthought in climate debates, but as the source of resonant ideas and imagery related to social and environmental justice.” Related Al Jazeera TV Show here

Remembrance & White Poppies, Peace Pledge Union

“White poppies are at the heart of our National Alternative Remembrance Ceremony every year. On our events page you can find out about this and other alternative remembrance ceremonies around the country… White poppies stand for remembrance of all victims of all wars. This includes wars still being fought. It includes people of all nationalities. It includes both civilians and members of armed forces.”

Mosaic Rooms Exhibition: “Stateless Heritage” (13 October 2021 – 30 January 2021)

“The exhibition presents DAAR’s nomination to register the camp as a World Heritage Site (which premiered at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale). The nomination is intended as a provocation, to expose how the definition of heritage is not universal as claimed, but subject to nation state control and has colonial foundations.” Related Guardian article here

The Box Plymouth Exhibition: ‘Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters’ (21 October 2021-27 February 2022)

“The National Museum of Australia’s award-winning exhibition comes to The Box this autumn/winter. Experience ancient stories from the world’s oldest continuing culture, told through more than 300 paintings and objects by over 100 different artists.”

ARTS

Edmonia Lewis

Feted, forgotten, redeemed: how Edmonia Lewis made her mark, The Guardian, 10 October 2021

“A bust rediscovered in a Scottish stately home has sparked fresh interest in the pioneering black US sculptor.”

Watch “Edmonia Lewis on Bute” & “Unravelling the mystery: Edmonia Lewis and Bute Roundtable

Ministers could limit student numbers on lower-earning arts degrees in England, The Guardian, 23 October 2021

“Social mobility experts warn that if ministers decide to deny loans to students with lower grades at A-level, it would penalise students from poorer backgrounds.”

Yale Center for British Art tries to identify enslaved Black child in 18th-century portrait of an early university benefactor, The Art Newspaper, 6 October 2021

“So far, the museum has not determined who the boy is, but it has reidentified other figures in the controversial painting, which is about to go back on view.”

MUSEUMS & HERITAGE SITES

Greenpeace France Louvre

Greenpeace activists occupy the Louvre esplanade to denounce a partnership between TotalEnergies and the museum, News in 24, 6 October 2021

“About twenty Greenpeace France activists occupied the Louvre esplanade in Paris on the morning of Wednesday October 6, reports France Bleu Paris. A banner 27 meters long, on which was inscribed “Climate: Total criminal, the Louvre accomplice”, was deployed on one of the facades of the palace.”

National Lottery Heritage Fund awards £9.9 million to National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool Echo, 29 October 2021

“The impact this long-term venture will have on the local, cultural and visitor economies, employment and training opportunities, local contractors, consultants, arts practitioners, and accessing local supply chains, should be a major driver towards inclusivity for the marginalised black community…Black communities will see their stories included at a national level through the creation of a National Centre for Teaching history, but also art, music, geography and citizenship”.

Public asked should the capital apologise for its links to slavery, Edinburgh News, 28 October 2021

“People in Edinburgh can have a say in what action is taken to shape the legacy of controversial sites across the capital, as part of a consultation launched this week…It comes days after a permanent new plaque was installed on the Melville monument denouncing Henry Dundas’ role in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade and expanding the British Empire.”

Andrew Watson: The ‘most influential’ black footballer for decades lost to history, BBC Sport, 11 October 2021

“There are two murals of black footballers facing one another across an alleyway in Glasgow. One helped shape football as we know it, the other is Pele. Andrew Watson captained Scotland to a 6-1 win over England on his debut in 1881. He was a pioneer, the world’s first black international, but for more than a century the significance of his achievements went unrecognised.”

PLAQUES

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom Book

 

Woman fled to Liverpool dressed as a white man to escape slavery, Liverpool Echo, 16 October 2021

“Ellen and William settled in Ockham, Surrey, before moving to a house in Hammersmith, London. They spent 19 years in England, and turned their London home into something of a hub for black activism. They had five children, who were born and raised during their nearly two decades living in England. Ellen was heavily involved in the London Emancipation Committee and the Women’s Suffrage Organisation.” CBS Mornings Report here via You Tube. Free e-book & e-audiobook here via court.rchp.com

Black History Month: Boxer’s family want colour bar apology, BBC News, 30 October 2021

“Boxer Cuthbert Taylor had more than 250 official bouts in his career, yet one foe he could never overcome was racism in his own country. Born in Merthyr Tydfil in 1909, he competed for Great Britain at the 1928 Olympics and was once called the best in Europe. His family want an apology for the 1911-1948 colour bar which stopped him fighting for the British title.”

Oxford college installs plaque calling Cecil Rhodes a ‘committed colonialist’, The Guardian, 11 October 2021

“Explanatory panel next to statue also says mining magnate exploited the ‘peoples of southern Africa’.”

BENIN BRONZES

Benin Bronzes Wiki

Cambridge college, Paris museum return looted African artefacts, Reuters, 27 October 2021

“European institutions are grappling with the cultural legacies of colonialism. Some 90% of Africa’s cultural heritage is believed to be in Europe, French art historians estimate.”

STATUES

statuesredressed

Statues Redressed: 1 city, 20 artists, 50 statues, Endless stories, Statuesredressed.com

“This summer, Sky Arts and Liverpool have invited some extraordinary artists, designers and members of the community to dress statues across the city to challenge, celebrate and debate the role of monuments in modern society.”

Denbigh votes to keep controversial H.M Stanley statue after 7,000 signature petition to remove it, Nation Cymru, 27 October 2021

“Henry Morton Stanley is immortalised for his famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume” after finding the Scottish explorer on the shores of Lake Tanganyika where he had been lost in central Africa. However, Stanley’s association with European imperialism, particularly the Belgian King Leopold II, led to objections…”

Bristol statue of Henrietta Lacks installed at university, BBC News, 4 October 2021

“The first public sculpture of a black woman made by a black woman in the UK has gone on display in Bristol. Bristol artist Helen Wilson-Roe created the life-sized bronze statue of Henrietta Lacks whose cancer cells changed the course of modern medicine.” Artist Helen Wilson-Roe’s website here

WINDRUSH

Windrush Waterloo

Artist Basil Watson to design Windrush monument in London, The Guardian, 16 October 2021

“The internationally renowned artist Basil Watson has been chosen to design a permanent national Windrush monument that will be unveiled in Waterloo next year, despite criticism of its location in London.”

Hidden Histories of Birmingham’s Windrush Generation Made Available To All, Birmingham Museums, 14 October 2021

“Recordings chronicling the lives of Birmingham’s Windrush generation now available online for the first time. Life testimonies also made available as a free resource to schools.”

FILMS

Black Prince

 

New Italian film spotlights ‘erased’ Black Medici ruler, Black Info, 19 October 2021

“Despite being the first black head of state in modern western Europe, the duke’s story is relatively unknown. Di Cinto’s new film hopes to bring his existence out of obscurity.”

MindsEye’s first features is Champion, Televisual, 19 October 2021

“Commercials production company MindsEye has signalled its move into feature films with the announcement of Champion, which charts the true story of black British boxing sensation Len Johnson. Johnson, who became British Champion, was blocked by the boxing authorities simply because of his race, but this ultimately led him to an even greater triumph.”

The Gay Black Group: Exploring the forgotten history and timeless lessons of a queer 80s landmark, Pink News, 27 October 2021

“A Here and Now film from 1983 offers a rare insight into the history of Black LGBT+ organising in Britain.” Watch the Gay Black Group via the BFI Player.

INFORMATION, ARCHIVES & LIBRARIES

Runaways London

 

History, storytelling and escape from slavery in 17th and 18th Century London, Runaways London Project, Spread the Word, October 2021

“Between the 1650s and 1780s many hundreds of enslaved people were brought to London. Most were African although a significant minority were South Asian and a smaller number were indigenous American. While in the capital some attempted to escape and, on occasions, those who pursued them placed advertisements in London newspapers seeking the capture and return of these freedom-seekers.”

‘We did our job, nothing more’: The archivists who proved 1961 Paris massacre of Algerians, France 24, 16 October 2021

“Philippe Grand, a former chief conservator at the Paris archives, was the first person to reveal evidence of the October 17, 1961 massacre of Algerians in the heart of Paris – one of the darkest chapters of postwar French history. Almost forty years after the hushed-up killings, testimonies by Grand and his colleague Brigitte Lainé helped ensure the massacre was finally recognised in a Paris court. As France marks the 60th anniversary of the atrocity, Grand spoke to FRANCE 24 about his role in safeguarding, and later revealing, the evidence.” Read the Historical Report here via France 24

The UK needs more regional Black archives so it can celebrate Black British history in its entirety, The Conversation, 8 October 2021

“Nottingham Black Archive (NBA) is dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in the city. Two such histories are those of activist and publishers Laurent Phillpotts and Oswald George Powe who contributed much to lives of Black people in Nottingham but also in the UK as a whole.”

Leading historian speaks out as National Library of Scotland rewrites ‘harmful’ colonial language, The Scotsman, 17 October 2021

“Terms now regarded as outdated will be replaced in catalogues and indexes with a recommended glossary of preferred words set to influence presentation of exhibitions, websites and learning resources.”

BOOKS

Sivasundaram book

Sivasundaram wins £25k British Academy Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, The Bookseller, 26 October 2021

“Sivasundaram is professor of world history at the University of Cambridge and his book re-imagines the history of the British Empire with the southern seas at the heart of the story, as opposed to Europe and the Atlantic. Judges said his work “invites the reader to consider what this history looks like from the perspective of indigenous peoples in the Indian and Pacific oceans, showing how they asserted their place in the global South as the British Empire expanded”.”

PARKS & GARDENS

Black Gardener Rose

 

New rose named after one of UK’s first documented black gardeners, The Guardian, 21 October 2021

“Zaidi said Ystumllyn’s achievements were important to her growing up as a young person from a minority ethnic background in Carmarthen, south Wales. She said his story also connected with how “so much of Britain, its flora and fauna has been brought over from empire”.” Listen to the Podcast: “The legacy of the rose, Gardening with the RHS”

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