INSTALLATION work has taken place on a stunning new piece of public art commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ugandan Asian migration to the city.
The striking new artwork, entitled Sculptural Gateway, has been put in place at Belgrave Circle. It consists of a commemorative archway formed from intertwining strands of bright colours and shapes, welcoming visitors to the Golden Mile.
The installation work saw heavy machinery used to lower the various pieces of the metal sculpture into place, which were then secured to the base on the ground.
Midlands-based artist Anuradha Patel was commissioned to create the sculpture marking the 50th anniversary of the arrival of thousands of Ugandan Asians fleeing the dictator Idi Amin.
It commemorates both the thousands of people who chose to make Leicester their home as well as celebrating the rich cultural heritage which has helped create the city’s multicultural identity over the last five decades.
Sculptural Gateway was chosen from a number of shortlisted designs by a panel which included Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby, Chair of Belgrave Neighbourhood Co-operative Housing Association (BNCHA) 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.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Leicester has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to people fleeing persecution and upheaval, and the events of 50 years ago are still fresh in the memories of many families in the city.
“This spectacular sculpture creates a new landmark in the city, welcoming visitors to the Golden Mile.
“It’s a very fitting commemoration of the struggles faced by those exiled from Uganda in 1972, and the unique identity they have helped create in the city.
“Sadly such stories of displacement and desperation are still very relevant today, and this project recognises the plight of all who find themselves far from home and in need of refuge.”
People can also get involved in donating towards the wider landscaping options for the site, including having their names engraved in granite paving.
A crowdfunding platform for the project was launched last month, and donors will be able to choose how much they want to give in return for different levels of sponsorship. All those who contribute will also be included in a commemorative book recording the artwork. The donation platform runs until December.
The funding for Sculptural Gateway, including the commissioning of the artist, manufacturing and installation of the artwork was funded by Leicester City Council at a cost of around £200,000.
Speaking at the installation of the artwork, artist Anuradha Patel added: “It was an enormous privilege to be awarded this commission and to create a permanent piece of public art for Leicester, and I’m very excited to see it being installed.
“It has been a lengthy process to design, create and install it, which has involved working closely with local communities, the city council and Leicester Museums to bring it all to fruition.
“This sculpture, and the part of Leicester’s history which it commemorates, has a relevance for a lot of people, and I hope it becomes a lasting focal point for people in the community and across the wider city.”
The sculpture weighs around four tonnes and stands 4.5metres tall. It was manufactured in Blackburn and is made from galvanised steel which is powder coated.
The details show Ugandan flowers, birds and animals (heron, monkey, elephant, birds in flight) and objects that were identified through community engagement sessions as being significant to the story, for example suitcases.
For more details on the Uganda 50 public artwork and donation platform, visit here.