Wed | Dec 1, 2021

‘Truly honoured’

Basil Watson chosen to design national Windrush Monument in the UK

Published:Friday | October 15, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Basil Watson
Basil Watson
A mockup of the Basil Watson-designed national Windrush Monument at the London Waterloo station in the United Kingdom.
A mockup of the Basil Watson-designed national Windrush Monument at the London Waterloo station in the United Kingdom.
The maquette of Basil Watson’s Windrush Monument shows three figures – man, woman and child – dressed in their Sunday best, climbing a mountain of suitcases hand in hand.
The maquette of Basil Watson’s Windrush Monument shows three figures – man, woman and child – dressed in their Sunday best, climbing a mountain of suitcases hand in hand.
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Basil Watson said he is “truly honoured” after he was chosen to design the national Windrush Monument, which will stand at London Waterloo station in the United Kingdom (UK). “I’m truly honoured to be chosen to design this monument from an outstanding field of applicants,” said Watson. An internationally renowned artist, Watson said the monument is even more significant to him because his own parents journeyed to England in 1952. “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,” he said.

The monument, which is backed by £1 million of UK government funding, will pay tribute to the dreams, ambition, courage and resilience of the Windrush migrants who arrived in Britain after the Second World War.

The three figures – man, woman and child – 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”, a release from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said.

It continued, “The design will stand as a testament to those who stepped ashore to lay a foundation for their families and future, influencing and contributing to every aspect of our society.”

Watson shared that he is excited to get started. “I look forward to bringing my design to life, because I know how much this means to the Windrush community,” he said.

Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch congratulated Watson on his achievement.

CONGRATULATIONS

“I want to congratulate Basil Watson on being selected to design the national Windrush Monument. The government is very pleased to be sponsoring this commemoration,” she said. “His design will celebrate and honour the contribution of the Windrush generation, right at the centre of our nation’s capital. “

Floella Benjamin, chair of the Windrush Commemoration Committee, concurred, stating that she was “thrilled to be able to reveal the final design. It was empowering to see how Basil’s design deeply and emotionally [affected] so many – adults and children alike,” she said.

Seth George Ramocan, high commissioner to the United Kingdom, also offered his congratulations. “It’s my delight to offer warmest congratulations to Basil Watson for his dedication and vision in creating this superb design,” said Ramocan.

Following a public engagement phase over the summer, the winning design was selected by the Windrush Commemoration Committee, chaired by Benjamin.

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. This will be his first public artwork in the United Kingdom, where he lived for part of his childhood with his family, who are part of the Windrush generation.

Basil, who was awarded the Order of Distinction in 2016 by the Jamaican Government in recognition of his artistic accomplishment, will now begin work to convert his maquette into the 12-foot-high bronze monument that will be unveiled to the public on Windrush Day – Wednesday, June 22, 2022.