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Scarlette Douglas unveils symbolic sculpture dedicated to Windrush pioneers at Tilbury Docks to mark Black History Month

31st Hydref 2023

In commemoration of Black History Month, and the 75th anniversary of Windrush we’ve unveiled a unique piece of art, a wireframe recreation of HMT Empire Windrush, at Tilbury Docks, the port where the ship docked in 1948. The installation aims to celebrate and reflect upon the huge contribution made by Windrush pioneers and their families across the UK.

The structure, created by Liam Hopkins of Lazerian Studios, in collaboration with abstract artist and creative designer, Jade Pearl, features portraits of five individuals who have done incredible things to celebrate the Windrush generation and its impact on their communities, with the help of funding from The National Lottery.

Singer and presenter Scarlette Douglas, whose grandparents moved to London from Jamaica and whose father was one of the co-founders of Black History Month UK, having already founded the first legal Black Radio station in the UK, unveiled the installation at Tilbury Docks, alongside meeting representatives from the various beneficiaries of The National Lottery funding, featured in the artwork.

Scarlette Douglas and other people related to the creation of the instalation for HMT Empire Windrush, at Tilbury Docks.

The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, has awarded more than £1.2 million to more than 140 community groups across the UK commemorating Windrush 75 this year. In addition, the funder gave more than £50 million to over 1,000 projects supporting Black communities across the UK last year, demonstrating its ambition to invest most in places, people and communities experiencing poverty, disadvantage and discrimination.

Titled, “Life We Hold: A Tribute to Black Britain”, the installation seeks to honour the historical significance of the HMT Empire Windrush and celebrates the remarkable contributions of Black individuals to the rich tapestry of British society, from the arts and food, to sport and education. The sculpture aims to be a thought-provoking tribute that engages viewers in a dialogue about unity, resilience, and the indelible legacy of Windrush pioneers.

The projects featured in the installation include FAM Fest, Thelma Matilda Alves Foundation, MENFA, Windrush: The Story Continues, and Show Racism the Red Card; portraits of pivotal individuals from each group feature on the sculpture, representing the incredible things they’ve achieved within their communities – from providing support for the mental wellbeing of women from the Windrush descendants; celebrating the music and food originating from this community; to mentoring and education within schools, and strengthening bonds between generations. Each week, National Lottery players contribute over £30 million to good causes across the nation with a proportion of this funding going to these community groups doing brilliant work to celebrate the Windrush generation.

Two women looking into Jade Pearl's portraits at the instalation for HMT Empire Windrush, at Tilbury Docks.

The portraits displayed on the wireframe structure of the ship were created by Jade Pearl, an abstract artist with a focus on digital art, illustration and murals. Her work focuses on the empowerment of people, wielding the vibrant colours of well-being to encapsulate the essence of unity, resilience, and togetherness.

Scarlette Douglas, said, “The impact and contribution the Windrush generation has had on Britain since first arriving in 1948 has been exceptional. It’s imperative that we recognise and honour the achievements of their legacy. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Windrush, the importance of funding for our vibrant community groups - like what has been provided by The National Lottery, has never been greater. These organisations are the backbone of so many communities, preserving our heritage and culture and providing support to the Windrush Generation and its descendants.”

Abstract artist Jade Pearl and Scarlette Douglas with the portraits for the instalation at Tilbury Docks.

David Knott, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said, “The 75th anniversary of Windrush is a great opportunity to recognise and embrace the endeavours and legacy of Windrush pioneers and their families. Communities have chosen many ways in which to mark this historic occasion and the lasting contribution made to the UK. Thanks to their incredible efforts and the support of National Lottery players we are proud to have awarded over £1.2 million across the UK to commemorate Windrush 75 and ensure the legacy lives on.”