The Sculpture

The Sculpture


The maquette is the artist's small working version of the proposed memorial. It shows the initial design, main features and concept of the piece. In the full size statue the figures will be 7ft high and the overall height 14ft.

The figures and relief will be bronze as this is the most enduring of materials. The base will be granite.

Artist's Statement

What is certain is that far into the future, the name at the bottom of the sculpture, Memorial 2007, will be of little significance. It will not be the artist, whatever his culture, colour or creed, but the memorial itself and those to whom it is dedicated, that will live on. This is just as it should be. It is with this in mind that I have tried to produce an unequivocally timeless monument, in an equally timeless metal - bronze. I do not want to create anything that is lessened by being subservient to today's whim and fashion. My sole aim is to create a thing of truth and beauty that serves its subject well.

The Artist's Concept

This is a monumental subject which is so profound and far reaching it touches us all whatever our colour, culture or creed.

The legacy of slavery is not just a matter of history, it is a very visceral legacy that has shaped all our destinies, and continues to do so to the present day.

As a sculptor, I feel that this memorial should link each and every one of us to our Common humanity. It is my belief that a monument to the legacy of the slave trade should serve two main purposes. The first is to pay tribute to the courage and dignity of all those who were enslaved and their struggle for freedom. The second is the recognition and understanding that we are all the beneficiaries of their labour.

The long and complicated story of the slave trade needs to be told in a tangible way, so that the memorial is a permanent reminder that also informs each new generation.

My design aims to depict the history of slavery, its abolition and its legacy in the form of a relief set beneath six larger than life free-standing figures, each of whom represents a part of the slave story. It will honour those who were captured and forced to work, creating enormous wealth for Britain and Europe.It will acknowledge the slaves' own widespread resistance in the fight for freedom, and it will record the ongoing legacy.

The story told in the relief has universal significance. I have therefore set the height of the relief to be easily accessible to all, including children, wheelchair users, and the blind. Braille would be used for main headings and important information wherever possible.

Les Johnson, Sculptor

Project supported by UNESCO

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