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Black Lives Matter
June 4, 2020
These beautiful underwater sculptures by Jason Declaires Taylor have been widely assigned the meaning of a tribute to the enslaved African people thrown overboard from slave ships. This is disputed by their creator, but is an interesting sidelight on the uses of sculpture in the course of history. There exists a need for the lives of these maltreated people to be acknowledged and honoured and these images speak to that need for reparation for so many of these vile criminal acts.
Update 3/6/20 This need for all of us to be represented seems even more pressing when we see the repeated horror of police brutality to black men in the USA and elsewhere in the world. The killing of George Floyd has sparked a global reaction against such cruelty. In the UK there is only, to my knowledge, one statue of a named black women, Mary Seacole, the Crimean nurse, in London. Apart from her, we have the anonymous 'Bronze Woman', a memorial to the Caribbean community and especially women, in South London. There is a memorial bust of Noor Inayat Khan, Indian Muslim British WW2 Spy in London, and a life-size bronze effigy of the Native American woman Pocahontas, in Gravesend, Kent, where she died on her journey home to Virginia in 1617.
Given this paucity of representation you would be forgiven for thinking that Black Lives Matter has not fully registered in the UK.