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Who Will the Welsh Look Up To?

Dec. 1, 2020

In Denbeigh in Wales, this statue of Stanley, who was guilty of attrocities on workers on rubber plantations has been the site of protests lead by artist Wanda Zyborska, for seven years ( see post 92 ). Recent worldwide events have lead to the issue of the messages of civic statues finally rising to the top of the agenda.The Welsh government has ordered an audit into links with slavery in its public monuments. More than 200 statues, streets and buildings in Wales named after historic Britons have been identified as having connections to the slave trade. The review was ordered by First Minister Mark Drakeford following the death of George Floyd in the US and the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol during a series of Black Lives Matter protests. The audit, led by Gaynor Legall, claimed that 'commemorations of people connected with the slave trade are often shown without any accompanying interpretation to address matters of contention which lead to the figures being presented solely as role models. This is the first stage of a much bigger piece of work which will consider how we move forward with this information as we seek to honour and celebrate our diverse communities.'

photo Daily Mail

Contractors have already boarded up a statue of slave trader Sir Thomas Picton at Cardiff's civic building following a vote to have it removed. Councillors said Picton's 'abhorrent' behaviour as Governor of Trinidad meant he was 'not deserving of a place in the Heroes of Wales collection'


The Monumental Welsh Women group has alrteady begun an ambitious project to get statues of women erected across Wales, spurred by the lack of a single statue of a real historical woman in any outdoor space in Wales. The 'Five Women' mission is to normalise female ambition and success by celebrating and commemorating the achievements of great Welsh Women and inspiring the next generation of great Welsh women(see post 144). From a shortlist of five candidates for a statue in Cardiff’s new Central Square, an online public ballot conducted by BBC Wales produced a clear winner. Betty Campbell (1935-2017) was the first head teacher of colour in Wales, a Cardiffian and champion of inclusivity who faced and challenged prejudice based on her race, class and gender. The people have chosen a black woman whose community credentials made her truly worthy of being looked up to.