UK: Artist shortlist for national Windrush Monument revealed

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.