Jamaican artist’s design chosen for £1m Windrush memorial

Basil Watson’s Windrush memorial, due to be unveiled at Waterloo Station next year

A statue designed by the internationally renowned Jamaican artist Basil Watson has been selected by the Windrush Commemoration Committee to be a national monument to the dreams, ambition, courage and resilience of the pioneers who arrived in Britain from the West Indies after the Second World War, and the generations that followed over the years.

The monument will be positioned at Waterloo Station, the arrival point in London for so many Windrush arrivals in London as they travelled by train after their ship docked at Southampton. With the backing of £1million government funding, it is intended that the monument should be unveiled on June 22 next year – Windrush Day.

According to the artist, the monument’s three figures, man, woman and child, all dressed in their “Sunday best”, are climbing a mountain of suitcases hand-in-hand, demonstrating the inseparable bond of the Windrush pioneers and their descendants and the aspirations of their generation.

Watson has designed public sculptures and monuments across the world, including statues of Martin Luther King, Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey. This will be his first public artwork in Britain, where he lived for part of his childhood with his family, who are part of the Windrush generation.

Basil Watson: ‘honoured’

Following a public engagement phase over the summer, the winning design was selected by the Windrush Commemoration Committee, chaired by Floella Benjamin. Announcing the committee’s decision, she said, “I am thrilled to be able to reveal the final design of our National Windrush Monument, which so vividly captures the experiences of the Windrush generation and their descendants across the country.”

Benjamin said that in the public responses, “Basil’s design deeply and emotionally affected so many – adults and children alike”.

She said, “This Windrush Monument represents the past, present and future and I hope it will be the catalyst for other monuments commemorating the extraordinary contribution of the Windrush generation to this country.”

Watson said he is “truly honoured” for his design to be chosen. “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.

“I look forward to bringing my design to life, because I know how much this means to the Windrush community.”

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