Throughout October, a series of art installations and performances celebrating Black History Month will take place along traffic-free National Cycle Network routes in Scotland
A programme of art and events on Scotland’s walking, wheeling and cycling routes has been launched as part of 2021’s Black History Month celebrations across the country.
Announced by walking and cycling charity Sustrans, the artworks and performances will use spaces along the country’s National Cycle Network throughout October to celebrate notable black people from Scotland's history, and key events that have made Scotland the country it is today.
Artworks, performances and events by Jim Muotune, Ojo Taiye, Grace Browne, Moira Salt, Senanu Tordzro, Harvey Dimond, Mark Tremaine Agbi ‘Okata’ and Becky Sikasa will take place in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, North Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire.
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.
The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) has co-ordinated a uniquely Scottish Black History Month during October since 2001, and the artworks are part of the wider programme of events organised by community, voluntary and public sector organisations throughout the month.
Nelson Cummins, Black History Month coordinator at the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER), said: “In 2001, The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (then known as the Glasgow Anti Racist Alliance) co-ordinated the first Black History Month programme in Scotland.
“Twenty years on the programme continues to grow with partners across community, voluntary and public sectors contributing dozens of events every October.
“Thank you to the organisations and individuals who have contributed events for their continued support.”
John Lauder, deputy chief executive at Sustrans, said: “At Sustrans, we are dedicated to equality, diversity and representing everyone through our work. These priorities underpin everything we do.
“We want walking, wheeling and cycling to be accessible and attractive to everyone who lives in Scotland, regardless of age, ability or background.
“These exciting Black History Month events will highlight and celebrate Scotland’s diversity, encouraging people from all communities to walk, wheel and cycle along the National Cycle Network to experience the artworks and events throughout October.
“Celebrating the histories, heritages and cultures of people who call Scotland home is crucial in our ongoing mission to create a National Cycle Network that welcomes, represents and includes everyone.
“We hope this celebration of black history in Scotland inspires people across the country to learn more about the important subjects explored, and encourages more people to explore their local walking, wheeling and cycling connections along the National Cycle Network.”
Together with an external steering group of artists and engineers, the charity commissioned the 8 artists to deliver unique artworks or performances on traffic-free National Cycle Network routes in Scotland.
The artists individually selected a section of the National Cycle Network relevant to the story they want to tell through their work, with the successful commissions including sculptures, murals, digital art, poetry, music and theatre.
Grace Browne, artist and creator of a traditional African women’s mural triptych situated at Glasgow Green, National Cycle Network Route 75, said: “It’s been phenomenal to have this opportunity to create artwork that celebrates African women’s art and architecture.
“It’s also powerful that they will be in a public space in Glasgow and will be accessible to so many people.”
The artworks will aim to highlight people whose sacrifices, contributions and achievements against a backdrop of racism, inequality and injustice are often forgotten about. They will also highlight and address Scotland’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Moira Salt, artist and creator of a sculptural performance work taking place along National Cycle Network Route 7 at Bowling Harbour, West Dunbartonshire, added: “It’s been incredibly enriching to work within the landscape of Scotland, to journey through its waterways, coastline and forests and find voices of the past.
“I’m honoured and humbled to be using this work to speak with and through voices of black women like Jackie Kay, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Hortense Spillers, Sylvia Winter, Audre Lorde and Matana Roberts.”
For more information about the programme of artworks and events, including performance dates and locations, visit the website.