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Call for artists to submit designs for public art commemorating city’s Ugandan Asians

Ugandan Asian families arriving at airport

ARTISTS are being called upon to come forward with designs and ideas for a new piece of public art commemorating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of thousands of Ugandan Asians in Leicester.

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of more than 27,000 Asians by the regime of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 1972. Many thousands settled in Leicester to start a new life.

The new piece of public art will be created and installed at Belgrave Circle, at the gateway to the city’s Golden Mile – as part of a wide-ranging programme of “Uganda 50” commemorations.

This city-wide project will reflect on both the arrival of the Ugandan Asians to start a new life in Leicester, and the vital contribution they have made to the city’s unique identity since then.

To be considered for this commission, interested artists must submit an expression of interest by midnight on Sunday, May 15, 2022. Full details of the commission, and what is expected from the designs, is set out online at the Leicester Museums website.

Leicester City Council announced earlier this year proposals for a new artwork, which will be created with the involvement of the city’s Ugandan Asian community over the coming months.

Funding for the artwork will come from a combination of a planned CrowdFund Leicester campaign and a contribution from the city council.

Leicester deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “This 50th anniversary is a real milestone in the story of Leicester’s Ugandan Asian community, who have helped shape the city’s identity to this day.

“We are very keen to hear from people about their ideas and designs for this public artwork, and will be working closely with the city’s Ugandan Asian community to ensure the final design both commemorates the events of 1972, and keeps the story alive as part of living history for future generations.

“It is also vital that the artwork can be something that will play a role in events such as the Diwali celebrations held at the Golden Mile each year.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to create a new piece of public art linked to such an important part of Leicester’s recent past, and I very much look forward to seeing people’s designs.”

The proposed artwork is part of a series of events and activities planned for 2022 commemorating the landmark anniversary.

Leicester Museum and Art Gallery is also due to host its Uganda 50 exhibition, in conjunction with community arts group Navrang, as the centrepiece of commemorations. The Leicester-based arts organisation was awarded just over £102,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a programme of regional events including the exhibition, which is due to open in July.

The project will bring to life the extraordinary experiences of an entire community of people who were given just 90 days to leave Uganda, and the stories of those displaced people who settled in the UK, and in Leicester.

The exhibition in Leicester has also received a £10,000 contribution from Leicester City Council’s Museums and Galleries Services. It is due to open in July 2022.

Curve Theatre is also staging a community production this summer looking at the Ugandan Asians’ exodus, their journeys to Leicester and contributions to the city over the last five decades.

The production – entitled Finding Home – Leicester’s Ugandan Asian Story at 50 – will run from July 29 to August 6 and will feature three new short plays by local writers whose families arrived in the UK from Uganda.

Full details of the Uganda 50 public artwork commission are available here.