Artist shortlist for national Windrush Monument revealed

The Windrush Monument will be a permanent tribute to a generation of arrivals from the Caribbean to Britain.

  • Shortlist of four influential artists to design national monument at London Waterloo station unveiled
  • Designs will be showcased around the country this summer
  • Winning design expected to be unveiled on Windrush Day 2022

The four artists in the running to design the national Windrush Monument at Waterloo station have been revealed today (30 April 2021).

The Windrush Monument will be a permanent tribute to a generation of arrivals from the Caribbean to Britain – from the arrival of MV Empire Windrush in 1948 and in the decades that followed. 

It will recognise how the Windrush Generation have enriched our nation’s history and made invaluable contributions to all aspects of British life, from our health and transport services to our politics, businesses, literature and culture.

The four artists shortlisted to design the monument are all of Caribbean descent and include world renowned, established and up and coming artists working across the visual arts.

The four artists chosen to make up the final shortlist are:

  • Sculptor and painter Basil Watson has designed public sculptures and monuments across the world including statues of Martin Luther King, Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey. He was awarded the Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2016 by the Jamaican government in recognition of his artistic accomplishments. His family is part of the Windrush Generation.
  • Jeannette Ehlers uses a mixture of photography, video, installation, sculpture and performance in her work. Her work addresses complex questions about memory, race and colonialism, influenced by her Danish Trinidadian heritage. In 2018 Ehlers was the co-creator of a significant public memorial in Copenhagen to Mary Thomas (a 19th century slavery freedom fighter), in collaboration with the Crucian artist La Vaughn Belle.
  • Daughter of Windrush generation pioneers, Valda Jackson works in sculpture, painting, printmaking and moving image creating complex narratives that reflect and question our past and present with intent on influencing our future. In 2017, her collaborative public art practice ‘Jackson and Harris’ won the Marsh Award for excellence in Public Sculpture from the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association.
  • Recently commissioned by Hackney Council to create a permanent sculpture honouring Hackney’s Windrush Generation, Thomas J Price has significant experience of creating public artwork. The British-Jamaican artist works across sculpture, film and photography focussing on representation and perception in society.

London Waterloo station is strongly associated with the stories of many members of the Windrush Generation. It stands at a point where thousands of Windrush pioneers first arrived in London before starting new lives across the UK.

The monument will be an ambitious public artwork that stands as a testament to the contribution of Caribbean pioneers in communities across the United Kingdom. It will create a permanent place of reflection and inspiration and be a visible statement of our shared history and heritage.

The artists unveiled today were selected by the Windrush Commemoration Committee (WCC), chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE.

Chair of the Windrush Commemoration Committee Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE said:

We are entering a really exciting stage of this project with the realisation of the monument just round the corner.

Our shortlist contains a vibrant mix of talented artists, all with lived experience of the Windrush legacy and we will now see proposals developed into a vision for the national monument to the Windrush Generation in London Waterloo station.

The monument will be a permanent place of reflection and inspiration for Caribbean communities and the wider public, especially children. It will act as a symbolic link to our past, and a permanent reminder of our shared history and heritage for generations to come.

Hear more from Baroness Benjamin.

Communities Minister Lord Greenhalgh said:

Over 70 years ago, when the first passengers on MV Windrush disembarked at Tilbury Docks, it marked an extraordinary moment in the history of modern Britain.

The Windrush generation and their descendants have gone on to play an important role in every area of British life, helping to shape the society we are so proud of today.

I look forward to seeing the designs that these exciting artists will produce to celebrate and honour their contribution to our nation’s vibrant history, right at the centre of our nation’s capital.

The artists will now be asked to develop their ideas into a maquette, model or drawings to illustrate their design. Each shortlisted artist will present their proposal via a short film, which will be shared nationally with a focus on the British Caribbean community.

UP Projects were appointed by MHCLG to manage the selection process and ensure the views of the Caribbean community in the UK were sought on what would represent a meaningful legacy.

A long list of 16 artists who matched the criteria of the artistic brief was put forward to the Windrush Commemoration Committee, chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE.

Over the summer the public will be encouraged to consider the proposals. UP Projects’ team includes a Caribbean Networks Consultant and a Curator & Caribbean Community Engagement Consultant, who will liaise with the Caribbean community as a major part of the public engagement strategy. This will ensure that a meaningful monument is commissioned to represent the Windrush Generation. Their views will be taken into consideration by the WCC as they make their final selection.

The winning design is planned to be revealed in Black History Month in October and the monument is expected to be unveiled on Windrush Day 2022.

Further information

Windrush Monument

See more information on selecting an artist for the Windrush monument.

Over 250 international and British cultural leaders, curators and leaders in the Caribbean community were invited to nominate artists who have the ability and experience to create a significant civic monument. Over 100 artists were nominated, a quarter of whom were invited to express an interest and a longlist of artists, all of Caribbean heritage and many of whom have lived experience of the Windrush legacy, was created.

The longlist comprised a rich and diverse range of 16 artists, all of Caribbean heritage, based internationally and in the UK, from London and from regional cities. The artists represented a range of artforms and approaches including multi-media installation, film, performance as well as sculpture, including Sonia Barrett, Christopher Cozier, Ebony G Patterson, Dominique White and Alberta Whittle.

Key facts and figures:

  1. MHCLG announced a £1 million budget towards a Windrush monument to be constructed within London Waterloo station.
  2. The location within Waterloo station is on the upper concourse, adjacent to Victory Arch, Exit 5 of the station. The site is opposite Platform 19.
  3. The Windrush Generation has come to be defined as those people who emigrated from the Caribbean to Britain between the arrival of the MV Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948 and the Immigration Act 1971. The monument will be a tribute to them, their descendants, and the wider British Caribbean community. 
  4. UP Projects curates and commissions contemporary art in the public domain. Founded in 2002 by Emma Underhill, the charity’s mission is to support artists to make new work that has social relevance, encourages learning and enriches the public sphere. 
  5. UP Projects makes work that is relevant to the places they work in and people that they work with. They take time to understand who their diverse audiences are, and what their needs and aspirations are. UP Projects works collaboratively with a broad range of both public and private-sector partners including major public bodies, significant cultural institutions, cultural festivals, and research and learning facilities. Collaboration is central to the work that UP Projects do and the way that they work.

Windrush Day

2019 saw the first national Windrush Day take place, with activities and events taking place up and down the country. Through educational workshops, theatre performances and historical exhibitions communities honoured that landmark day over 70 years ago when the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks.

The government is committed to building on the success of Windrush Day 2019 and 2020 and embedding 22 June in the national conscience, ensuring we continue to honour and recognise the outstanding resilience, innovation and creativity of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.

Shortlisted artists

Basil Watson

It is exciting, and 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.

Jeannette Ehlers

Working with hybridity and pan-Africanism I have long been interested in looking further into that crucial British Caribbean part of my heritage. It will be an honour and a thrilling challenge for me to get in touch with the British Caribbean Community. I have a great deal of experience with large-scale public works of art that speak to a global audience and bring to the fore the importance of Afro-Caribbean presence and narratives in the public space

Thomas J Price

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, which makes being shortlisted for the Windrush Monument Commission feel like a very significant honour.

Valda Jackson

As a daughter of the Windrush generation it is an honour to be considered to create a sculpture that celebrates the unique and profound contribution made by Caribbean and Commonwealth people to the life and culture of Britain.

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