London is getting a new memorial to the victims of transatlantic slavery – here are the 6 shortlisted artworks

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a shortlist of six leading artists to create a memorial in London to the victims of transatlantic slavery. The selected work will be installed in West India Quay in London Docklands, a site historically tied to the slave trade.

The memorial will acknowledge London’s role in supporting slavery internationally and is designed to commemorate the millions of people who were enslaved. Sadiq Khan said that a ‘lasting memorial to the victims of transatlantic slavery is long overdue’. 

The Mayor has pledged £500,000 towards funding the memorial. This is part of the Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm which is aimed towards the ‘better representation of the breadth and diversity of the capital’s population and history’. A learning programme will support the memorial and underline London’s role in the slave trade. 

Here are the six shortlisted works, including a bit of detail about each one. 

The six shortlisted works for London’s Memorial to Victims of Transatlantic Slavery  

Concept of memorial with pavilion, sugar cane and cowrie shells
Alberta WhittleConcept for Alberta Whittle’s ‘Echoes from beneath the deep and in between the canes’

Alberta Whittle, ‘Echoes from beneath the deep and in between the canes’

Alberta Whittle’s concept includes a Caribbean-style pavilion in a sugarcane field and cowrie shells. The artist hopes to offer ‘a space for people to gather, mourn, reflect and find connection’. 

Concept for large scale installation using the image of slave ships
Grada KilombaConcept for Grada Kilomba’s ‘Archaeology of Contemplation’

Grada Kilomba, ‘Archaeology of Contemplation’

Grada Kilomba uses the image of a boat as a ‘metaphor of remembrance’. Viewers would be encouraged to reflect on the horrific voyage across the Atlantic endured by millions of enslaved Africans.

Concept for large-scale curved stone installation
Helen CammockConcept for Helen Cammock’s ‘Ripple’

Helen Cammock, ‘Ripple’

‘Ripple’ is a large concentric stone installation with inscriptions made from west African wood. The artist describes how ‘a ripple can move between past and present, carrying many voices and stories of survival and resistance’. 

Concept of a bronze sculpture installation
Hew LockeConcept for Hew Locke’s ‘Memorial for the victims of the transatlantic slave trade’

Hew Locke, ‘Memorial for the victims of the transatlantic slave trade’

Hew Locke draws attention to the children involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Bronze sculptures of boys and girls carry the London buildings built with money made from the slave trade. 

Large bronze shell sculpture
Khaleb BrooksConcept for Khaleb Brooks’ ‘The Wake’

Khaleb Brooks, ‘The Wake’

‘The Wake’ borrows the form of a cowrie shell which was used as currency during the slave trade. Brooks repositions it as ‘a multifaceted symbol of resilience’. The installation would serve as a ‘remembrance vessel’ with names of enslaved people engraved inside.

Large colourful sculpture on a compass
Zak OvéConcept for Zak Ové’s ‘Nana Buluku’

Zak Ové, ‘Nana Buluku’

‘Nana Buluku’ is an enormous and colourful representation of an African Queen. Ové describes the figure as ‘mythic yet futuristic, unashamedly Black and beautiful’. 

Members of the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite artwork before the memorial is chosen later this year.

Did you see that a new open air amphitheatre has opened in central London?

Plus: the Tate has just announced its 2025 exhibitions.

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