Artists should be at the centre of society keeping alive a utopian vision, because society will not improve if the people envisioning a better society are politicians.”

Peter Sellars

The role of the artist in society is critical to communicate the injustices experienced daily by people. Art provides political expression beyond rhetoric, propaganda, and action, inspiring those formerly untouched by an issue to become engaged.

As the tenth anniversary of the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight colleagues approaches, and a decade of empty promises fades in the Niger Delta, a wide coalition of organisations and individuals has gathered to ensure that their courageous struggle will never be forgotten.

Many in Britain are unaware of how our consumption of oil relates to the suffering of communities elsewhere and those that campaign for justice.

Remember Saro-Wiwa launched a unique public art initiative – the Living Memorial – dedicated to Ken, his colleagues, and the issues that they fought and died for. It is Britain’s first ever mobile memorial, moving from site to site between 2006 and 2011, before its location at  a “permanent site” at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham.

The Living Memorial is not be a monument to a finished episode but an initiative that highlights to London – the seat of the UK government and a major oil industry centre – the living reality of the struggle for social and environmental justice in lands upon which we depend.

The Living Memorial will inform, agitate and inspire, and claim its space in the landscape of multi-cultural Britain. Britain’s civic spaces are overwhelmingly dominated by centuries of conventional monuments to aristocracy, empire and the military: the significant contributions of people of colour are currently appallingly under-represented in our cultural landscape. The Living Memorial helps to redress this imbalance.

An international process of open submissions invited inspiring ideas for the project. A shortlist of five proposals, selected by a panel, were exhibited in the run-up to 10th November 2005. Alongside the Living Memorial ran an interactive programme, which animated the whole process through talks, workshops, publications, and a website. As the Memorial moves from site to site the programme moved with it.

The Living Memorial has local, national and international significance, a project that connects and communicates, provokes and consoles, remembering the past, but shaping the future.

London’s Cultural Landscape:

 

The Living Memorial will inform, agitate and inspire, and claim its space in the landscape of multi-cultural Britain.

 

Britain’s civic spaces are overwhelmingly dominated by centuries of conventional monuments to aristocracy, empire and the military: the significant contributions of people of colour are currently appallingly under-represented in our cultural landscape. The Living Memorial will help to redress this imbalance.