October 2013, the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of the Bronze Woman – the first public monument of a black woman in England.
The realised vision of educator, author, musician, poetess and community activist Cécile Nobrega, who was an accomplished classical composer (her piece Twilight has been sung by many national choirs), poet, sculptor and educator. 1919 – 2013.
John Mayford, Olmec CEO, December 2013:
“Our commitment to Bronze Woman arises from the cultural significance of the landmark project, and the closeness with which it matches Olmec’s mission of race equality through economic and social justice. Olmec’s role in the realisation of Cécile Nobrega’s vision to create a monument celebrating the contribution of African Caribbean woman to society and women everywhere is a proud moment in our history. The poem reflects the history of migration to the UK from the Caribbean, the transatlantic slave trade, and the subjugation of woman, through the poetic reflection on the role of the Caribbean woman. Yet the imagery of the monument and the poem is of endurance , healing, celebration, triumph and hope for the future.
Cécile Nobrega was an outstanding individual, a role model for all our communities. The legacy Cécile left us all with the Bronze Woman poem makes her one of the most significant figures in the race equality in Britain”
The 3m tall Bronze Woman statue of a woman holding a baby is installed in Stockwell Memorial Garden, south London.
The figure is based on a poem of the same name by Guyana-born Cécile Nobrega, who lived in Stockwell. (pictured below in 2011, 2011 image courtesy of www.itzcaribbean.com)
Olmec, is a BME led social enterprise that champions race equality through economic and social justice, and runs practical programmes designed to empower individual and communities facing disadvantage and act as a catalyst for positive social change. Olmec raised £84,000 funding and found the sculptors and a location for the statue.
The statue was unveiled by a “circle” of women of Caribbean origin including Doreen Lawrence, artist Anissa-Jane, Baroness Rosalind Howells OBE and Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards founder Kanya King.
An initial model of the statue was first designed by sculptor Ian Walters, who also created the Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square in 2005.
Following his death in August 2006, the project was completed by Aleix Barbat, a final year sculpture student at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in London.
Olmec director Tanzeem Ahmed said the monument was “a tribute to the diverse communities that make up British society and a symbol of the potential of women everywhere”.
The installation of the statue in 2008 marked the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush ship to Britain carrying 500 West Indian immigrants, and the 200th anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave trade.
Present October 8th, 2013:
Welcome, introductions & Bronze Woman Poem
Annetta Bennett First Poet & Olmec CIC Director
Poet 3 Community Roots Social Enterprise
Poet 4 Spliff Richard, Performance Poet
Poet 4 Caroline Odogwu, She Is You Social Enterprise TBC
Poet 5 Krystal Smart,
Student Lillian Baylis Technology School student
Dr Omar Khan Runnymede Trust / Olmec
End Racism this Generation
Lara Oyedele, Chief Executive Officer, Odu-Dua Housing Association
Closing remarks John Mayford, Chief Executive Officer, Olmec
@Com_Roots – Community Roots twitter feed
Read Cécile Nobrega’s poem here Millionwomenrise.com/bronze-woman
Photography by Ali Clifford (incredibusy.com)
Edited to update with Cécile Nobrega’s obituary in The Guardian.