Suitable Locations for the Work
About the Artwork
Background, history, commissioner of the work
Made for the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show 2021. Josephine Kay-Ogunsola received a First class Diploma and was awarded The Society of Scottish Artists New Graduate Award: Runner Up and was selected for the Royal Scottish Academy upcoming New Contemporaries Exhibition in 2022.
During the the summer, before heading into my 4th Year of Glasgow School of Art the Black Lives Matter protests catalysed by the murder of George Floyd in the US brought attention towards conversation regarding historical monuments in America and Europe, which seemed to glorify and uphold racist figures. As a result many people took to the streets in Britain to vandalise, topple and ultimately remove these public sculptures. While there continues to be debate regarding what to do with these sculptures, I wanted to contribute by making a monument that I wanted to see in Public. Here I reimage what a British monument could and should be. On the plinth, the woman literally elevated to a height that means the viewer has to physically look up to. As a result I reward the black figure with the same status of Churchill or Nelsons Colum, making her significance in British History loud and prominent. Interestingly, while these monuments of white men were most entirely black, my monument is wildly colourful which boldly captures the attention of viewers and disrupts the neoclassical, monochromatic nature of the common public monument. The only part of the sculpture which is black, is the figure herself, which against the colours surrounding her, emphasises her unique black presence and distinguishes her in the catalogue of monuments of white men. Further I wanted this dream monument of mine to engage with the audience, my work is textural and invites the viewer to run their fingers across the bumpy surface, directly engaging with the statue. This contrasts with monuments that I usually see which are sleek, smooth and polished in surface. In no way is my monument aiming to reflect sophistication. But, in contrast, it embraces the silly, the fun, and the kitsch. One way that I have achieved this is by substituting the mighty stalion, usually positioned next to the powerful white figure, with the wide eye unicorn. This feature of a unicorn, locates the figures presence in Scotland, while also the comparison of the unicorn to famous British monuments, ridicules the seriousness and glorification of nationhood and masculinity.