Throughout October, a series of art installations and performances celebrating Black History Month will be unveiled along traffic-free National Cycle Network routes in Scotland.
Artists (L-R) Jim Muotune, Senanu Tordzro, Grace Browne, Harvey Dimond, Moira Salt and Becky Sikasa launch the programme of art and events at Grace's mural triptych, Glasgow Green.
Black History Month is a month-long celebration of Black history, held in the UK throughout October since 1987.
The eight pieces along National Cycle Network routes celebrate notable Black people from Scotland's history, and key events that have made Scotland the country it is today.
They will also highlight Scotland’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Have you visited or attended any of the Black History Month artworks and events? We would love to hear your feedback (link).
Black History Month events along the National Cycle Network
- Jim Muotune has created 2 illustrated boards depicting events from the extraordinary career of 1899 world champion cyclist Major Marshall W Taylor. He has also created a short film about the Major. His film will be screened outside at the Glasgow Science Centre (location) and both are accessible from National Cycle Network Route 7 from 1st-23rd October. The illustrated boards will also be accessible to attendees of COP26 Green Zone events at Glasgow Science Centre throughout the conference.
- Ojo Taiye has written powerful poems that explore historic and contemporary race relations in Scotland, as well as recognizing the contributions made by African and Caribbean people to this city, whilst exploring Scotland’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. You can find the poems on special plaques along the Glasgow – Clyde walkway (location), National Cycle Network Route 75, available to read from 1st-31st October.
- Grace Browne has created a mural Triptych of traditional African women’s mural painting with inspiration from three mural styles. The murals are designed to weather over the course of the month, so you are encouraged to visit it multiple times to see how it changes. The project celebrates the beauty, creativity and ingenuity of African women's art and contributions to the built environment. Grace’s mural can be found on Glasgow Green (location), National Cycle Network Route 75, from 1st-31st October
- Moira Salt has found inspiration from Jackie Kay’s Lamplighter. She will create a sculptural performance work that uses materials found along the coasts of Scotland that gestures to the treatment of Slaves, and the experience of Black and Brown bodies within a diaspora. Moira’s work can be found at Bowling Harbour (location) on National Cycle Network Route 7 throughout October with performances at 15:00-16:00 on 2nd, 16th and 30th October.
- Senanu Tordzro looks to highlight and celebrate her culture and home in Ghana. She has created a trail using traditional Ghanaian Adrinka Symbols, with links to her animations along the waterfront in Dundee (location) on National Cycle Network Route 77. Her artwork will also feature on 18 poster sites in nearby Slessor Gardens (location). Senanu’s work will be accessible from 8th-31st October with walking tours taking place on 29th (11:00-12:00) and 31st October (13:00-14:00), setting off from Slessor Gardens.
- Harvey Dimond examines the relationship between the climate crisis, anti-Blackness and homo/trans-phobia. Harvey’s project will feature 2 sandstone monoliths bearing the names of slaves who were used to build the wealth of Robert Gordon and the Montgreenan House estate in North Ayrshire. Their piece, which will be a permanent addition to the Network, will be found from 31st October in Kilwinning (location) along National Cycle Network Route 7.
- Mark Tremaine Agbi ‘Okata’ will be running events on 23rd October between 13:30-17:00 in Edinburgh - St Andrews Square (location) with live music performances from Sienna Leigh and Courtney Stoddard, talks from Sir Geoff Palmer and visual art. Okata Introduction 13.30, Sir Geoff Palmer 14:00, Cortney Stoddard 14.30/14:45, Sienna Leigh 15.00-15:20, END 17:00
- Okata has also created a mural, featuring quotes from Frederick Douglass, in the Rodney Street Tunnel (location) on National Cycle Network Route 75, which will be available to view throughout October.
- Becky Sikasa will be performing a short series of musical-visual events at Coalie Park, Leith along the Water of Leith (location) on National Cycle Network Route 75 on 10th (14:00) and 13th (18:30) October. Centered around a piece featuring text from Scottish poet Jackie Kay, Sikasa explores questions of identity and self, evidenced in her musical focus on vocals and soul. This run of performances will include visual accompaniment from Olivia Middleton.
Artists (L-R) Harvey Dimond, Senanu Tordzro, Moira Salt, Grace Browne, Becky Sikasa and Jim Muotune launch the Black History Month on the National Cycle Network programme of events at Glasgow Green.
Celebrating diversity through art
Senanu Tordzo, whose art can be found along National Cycle Network Route 77 in Dundee throughout October, said:
"Working on this project has been a very enriching and fulfilling experience.
"Learning more about the people and their stories as they speak out about their lives and experiences has really deepened the importance and meaning of Black History Month for me, as an artist of colour as well as an African.
"Sustrans has really inspired me in their effort to raise and support black voices during this period of time where it's needed most."
Cosmo Blake, Art and Diversity Coordinator at Sustrans Scotland, added:
"This project celebrates Black History Month through a series of public artworks, located on much-loved National Cycle Network routes.
"Together with our steering group, we commissioned 8 artists to deliver unique artworks or performances on the National Cycle Network in Scotland.
The commissions include sculptures, murals, digital art, poetry, music, theatre; all taking place along the Network throughout October."
Marie-Claire U. Nyinawumuntu, Sustrans Senior Engineer and member of the Black History Month steering group added:
"When we allow ourselves to explore and see the world through someone’s else perspective, we grow as a result.
"I am hoping through a variety of creations by these exceptionally talented artists, a new understanding will be reached”.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is a month-long celebration of the history of Black People in the UK, held in October in the UK since 1987.
Black History Month focuses on people whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about.
CRER (the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights) state that Black History Month in Scotland “encompasses the history of African, Caribbean and Asian people in this country; people who often have a direct link with Scotland through slavery, colonialism and migration.”
We recognise this statement and have aligned with it for this project.