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Black history artwork to be commissioned for Dundee’s Slessor Gardens

Last year's display in Slessor Gardens.

Artwork celebrating black history in Dundee is to be commissioned after an exhibit displayed last year was destroyed.

New designs will be installed at Slessor Gardens during Black History Month in October, as part of efforts to highlight contributions to the city by black and ethnic minorities.

It comes after work by artist Sekai Machache was destroyed last year in a suspected racist attack.

Dundee’s links to the slave trade were thrown into the spotlight as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum last year.

Progress

It sparked the creation of a Black History Working Group, which will promote black culture in the city.

Chaired by Dundee City councillor Georgia Cruickshank, one of the group’s first roles is to commission two artists to explore different approaches and perspectives on black culture, as well as its relationship to Dundee today.

Slessor Gardens will host the exhibit.

Ms Cruikshank said: “The progress so far in addressing what is a broad, deep and of course, highly emotive subject has been impressive, particularly with the other priorities that the city has faced in the past 12 months.

“We have already produced a detailed paper reviewing our approach to tackling human trafficking and exploring how best to raise awareness and education in the city about the issues involved.

“We agreed to look into the possibility of commissioning local artists of colour to create temporary works for Slessor Gardens.”

The project will cost around £3,000.

Finding lost history

Support for the Black Lives Matter movement reached its peak last summer after the murder of George Floyd.

Efforts have since been made nationwide to push for wider recognition of ethic heritage and the effects of the British Empire.

“A lot of Dundee’s permanent public art celebrates the city’s past,” said Ms Cruikshank.

“But it has seldom, if ever, represented any ethnic contribution to the city which could be because no formal study into the city’s black and ethnic history has been undertaken.

“As part of our contribution to this year’s Black History Month in October, we want to commission temporary artworks for the poster sites in Slessor Gardens.

“If funding can be found, they will be there for a minimum of three months. This allows everyone to introduce, share, and celebrate the impact of black heritage and culture.”

Sekai Machache's exhibit at the Slessor Gardens was torn down.
Sekai Machache’s display was torn down.

Later, the group hope to create a permanent display in the McManus Galleries which will explore the city’s involvement in slavery.

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