(Visit London, 2 February 2011) London is home to many people from the small South American country of Guyana, but there are few indicators beyond the odd Guyanese takeaway (think delicious hot curries and roti bread) or famous figure – be it reggae star Eddie Grant or former Southbank Centre writer-in-residence John Agard.
However, venture into the south London pocket of Stockwell and into Stockwell Memorial Gardens and you’ll find another piece of Guyana – a 10-foot bronze sculpture of a woman holding a child. It’s a powerful image, not least because of its fascinating history.
The first public statue of a black woman in England, Bronze Woman was the brainchild of a black woman: Guyanese poet and local resident Cécile Nobrega.
Based on and named after her own poem, Bronze Woman took 10 years of planning, fundraising and determination by Nobrega and other groups and individuals who wanted to mark the struggles faced by Afro-Caribbean women, as well as their contribution to society.
The statue was designed by renowned sculptor Ian Walters, whose many famous London sculptures include the Nelson Mandela statue next to the Royal Festival Hall.
Sadly Walters died before the project was completed. But the project was picked up by London-based sculptor-artist Aleix Barbat, then a final-year sculpture student at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art.
Eventually, on 8 October 2008 – during Black History Month – the sculpture was unveiled, with the help of the then 89-year-old Nobrega.
Do you know anywhere else you can find a bit of Guyana in London? Tell us in the comments below.