Artwork created to honor Gloucestershire activist BLM who was nearly kicked out of her hometown
Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 2016, when St Thomas’ Hospital in London decided to honor Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole that the first statue of a black woman was erected in the UK. .
So, while not a statue, a new work of art based on the experiences of a young woman who organized a Black Lives Matter protest in rural Gloucestershire is a rarity.
Khady Gueye, 25, has become a leading figure for black minority youth and others growing up in rural communities across the country after organizing his own rally after George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer in the United States.
Read more: New sculptures unveiled for the Forest of Dean trail
Some members of Lydney City Council tried to block the protest while England was under national lockdown, but then backtracked.
Racial abuse and threats caused the former student to temporarily leave her home, but she managed to organize the rally in Bathurst Park.
Miss Gueye has now contributed to a new art project set up in the Forest of Dean called Soil Unsoiled.
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His sculpture, which was located near the iconic Sculpture Trail, was created using charred and blackened wood to preserve it and captures the coal mining traditions of the Forest of Dean.
A poem, written by Bristol poet Zakiya McKenzie and inspired by Khady is etched in wood and she hopes it becomes a space for everyone to think about.
It will also be the subject of a film by another local filmmaker. Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell. Rebecca, who is Anglo-Kenyan, first met Khady in 2020 at a local Black Lives Matter protest.
Miss Gueye, who is Senegalese-British, said: “Working to bring to life my own lived experiences of racial inequality in my hometown, although difficult, has been so important to my own sense of identity as a woman. mixed race in rural Brittany.
“My work in the community is focused on inspiring young people and finding ways to bring people together to fight racial, social and economic inequalities, and I hope this sculpture will make people of color feel seen. , heard and valued in this area.
“I would like it to be a space for reflection for the inhabitants and visitors to the forest.
She had previously opened up about the racism she suffered as a schoolgirl growing up in the Forest of Dean, but didn’t realize how bad it was until she tried to organize the rally.
Today, she is considered one of the leading figures of the movement and is celebrated in the artwork that has remained in place for six months, along with pieces by seven other artists.
The statue of Edward Colston was shot down in Bristol at the height of the BLM protests in the city, but London Mayor Sadiq Khan said instead of removing statues people should erect new monuments to commemorate the role that minorities have played in British history.
When the BBC searched the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association database, it found only three of the 610 identifiable statues of those named were black individuals. There were two from Nelson Mandela and one from Desmond Tutu.
English Heritage said less than four percent of the 950 blue plaques in London identify buildings with connections to notable figures. honored members of the black or Asian community.
This makes ‘Soil unsoiled’ by Khady Gueye and Bristol poet Zakiya McKenzie a rarity.
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It is supported by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England through investment from the National Lottery
A spokesperson said: “Soil unsoiled” is a poem that explores themes drawn from Khady’s lived experience and the racial inequalities she faces and has witnessed, which was commissioned after the Black protests. Lives Matter in summer 2020.
“The sculpture aims to create a point of reflection and contemplation on the Path of Sculpture.”