Nearly 100 Artist-Designed Globes Will Land in London’s Trafalgar Square This Weekend to Teach the Public About the History of Slavery in the U.K.
The globes will be sold at auction to raise money for the artists and education programs.
This weekend, 96 artist-designed globes will be installed at the heart of London in Trafalgar Square, to raise awareness about the history of the transatlantic slave trade in the U.K., as part of the nationwide project, The World Reimagined.
The public will be able to view the globes—designed by creatives including the project’s founding artist, Yinka Shonibare—from November 19–20, and then bid on them in an online auction held by Bonhams online only now from November 17 through November 25. Proceeds are going to The World Reimagined’s learning program, the artists, and the establishment of a grant-making program for racial justice projects and organization.
“The core mission of The World Reimagined is to engage the public to learn about the impact of the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans,” Ashley Shaw Scott Adjaye, artistic director of The World Reimagined, told Artnet News. “To have a public exhibition in Trafalgar Square, in the heart of the capital where so many people can interact with these glorious works, is incredibly exciting.”
More than 100 globes were commissioned via an open call judged by Shaw Scott Adjaye, who is also head of global research at her husband’s architecture firm Adjaye Associates; artist Chris Ofili; Zoé Whitley, director of the Chisenhale Gallery; Matthew Smith, director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at UCL; and Renée Mussai, senior curator and head of curatorial and collections at Autograph, a London-based arts charity.
The sculptures were decorated by African diaspora artists from across the U.K., as well as a number from the Caribbean. Among those who contributed designs include Julianknxx, who has an exhibition at the Barbican Curve in 2023, Godfried Donkor, Phoebe Boswell, and Alison Turner. All of them have drawn on their personal experience with Britain’s history with slavery, and how it has impacted people of all backgrounds and races living in the U.K. today.
“The World Reimagined is an important opportunity to reflect on the importance of our diversity and to shine a light on our collective stories that too often remain untold,” said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. “We must remember the millions who suffered due to the Transatlantic slave trade and the impact this has had on generations of Black communities.”
Many of the globes have already been shown in cities around the U.K. since August. Each has a QR code on its base that takes visitors to a website, where they can learn more about the issues and histories raised in the artwork.
“This is a deeply powerful moment. We believe in an idea of patriotism that says we are strong and courageous enough to look at our shared past and present honestly, so we can create a better future—together,” said the project’s co-founder Michelle Gayle. “It’s not Black history—it’s all of our history.”
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