• Saturday, September 30, 2023


Public artwork in Leicester to commemorate arrival of Ugandan Asians

By: Pramod Thomas

PREPARATIONS are in full swing for the installation of a new public artwork in Belgrave, Leicester, to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Ugandan Asians to the city, a statement said.

Midlands-based Ugandan Asian artist of Gujarati origin, Anuradha Patel, was selected to create the sculpture, which will be installed on Belgrave Roundabout later this summer, Leicester city council said in a statement.

The artwork titled Sculptural Gateway was granted planning permission earlier this year, and groundworks are beginning on-site ahead of the planned installation.

Patel said, “I feel enormously privileged to have been awarded the Ugandan Asian 50th-anniversary commission. Not only is it so relevant to my history and experience, but it has brought me closer to the communities in Leicester with whom I share so many of the same or similar experiences of upheaval and resettlement.

“It has been a huge team effort with contributions from and in collaboration with the local communities, the magnificent team at Leicester city council and Leicester Museums and Art Gallery.

“I hope that the sculpture and the beautiful landscape within which it is to be set will create a focal point and a sense of belonging and ownership within the community.”

The artwork represents the two communities impacted by the expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972. The structure is connected at the top, symbolising the transition of a generation of people from one country to another, the statement said.

Sculptural Gateway represents the two communities impacted by the expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972

Sculptural Gateway was chosen from several shortlisted designs by a panel which included Leicester mayor Peter Soulsby, chair of Belgrave Neighbourhood Co-operative Housing Association Jaimini Bharakhada, BBC Radio Leicester broadcaster Rupal Rajani, along with the city council’s Anne Provan and Jo Jones, head of Leicester’s Museums and Arts service.

Leicester deputy mayor for climate, economy and culture, Cllr Adam Clarke said that the installation is planned for the end of August.

“The story of Leicester’s Ugandan Asians isn’t something from the distant past – it is well within the living memory of so many people in the city and has profoundly shaped our communities and our culture over the last half a century,” said Clarke.

“The resilience shown by people 50 years ago when faced with upheaval, desperation and danger is sadly still just as relevant today, and this artwork is a chance to reflect upon that as well as celebrate the rich diversity brought by the city’s Ugandan Asian community.”


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