Preparations are underway for the installation of a new public artwork in Belgrave commemorating the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Leicester’s Ugandan Asians.
Midlands-based artist Anuradha Patel was selected to create the eye-catching sculpture, which is due to be installed on Belgrave Roundabout later this summer.
Work has been taking place on creating the new artwork, which centres around intertwining strands of colours and shapes forming commemorative archway welcoming visitors to Belgrave.
The artwork was granted planning permission earlier this year, and groundworks are beginning on site ahead of the planned installation work.
Images show work underway on creating the sculpture, overseen by the artist, who is herself a Ugandan Asian of Gujarati origin.
Entitled Structural Gateway, the piece 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.
It is being constructed using a variety of sharp angled, vertical structures representing pain and upheaval, while the overall softer architectural shape of the structure suggests a place of shelter, sanctuary and refuge.
Structural Gateway was chosen from a number of shortlisted designs by a panel which included Leicester City
“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 Cllr Adam Clarke, Leicester deputy city mayor for climate, economy and culture.
“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 chance to reflect upon that as well as celebrating the rich diversity brought by the city’s Ugandan Asian community.”
The project is costing around £200,000 in total, including the groundworks, manufacturing costs, artist’s fee and engagement work.
Artist Anuradha Patel added: “I feel enormously privileged to have been awarded the Ugandan Asian 50th anniversary commission.
“Not only is it so relevant to my own 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.
“I am delighted that the sentiments expressed in the sculptural design have been so well understood and received.
“Now that we are approaching completion, I am both excited and nervous. It has been a lengthy process over the past year to realise the artwork.
“I anticipate the completion and the installation of the artwork in the knowledge that I will be sharing the experience with a lot of people for whom the sculpture has a relevance.
“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.”