Art to commemorate black servicemen and women goes on display in Liverpool

The installation has been put on display at Liverpool Town Hall to tie in with Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

<p>The lamp in Liverpool Town Hall</p>

The lamp in Liverpool Town Hall

A lamp made out of clay poppies to commemorate the black servicemen and women who have been lost due to conflict is on display at Liverpool Town Hall.

The art installation has been created by renowned artist Faith Bebbington, who is behind a number of artworks displayed around the city.

She repurposed black poppies, made of polymer clay, from a sculpture which was displayed at Liverpool’s Central Library in 2015 as part of the city’s commemorations of WWI.

Ms Bebbington worked with charity Writing on the Wall and the local community to create the original Black Poppy sculpture.

It was inspired by the Great War to Race Riots Archive, a collection of letters from black servicemen from across the empire who served in the armed forces and merchant marines.

The letters detailed the hardship and destitution endured by black workers in Liverpool when they were barred from employment in the post war period.

The sculptural installation featured giant 3D letters covered with extracts from the letters in the archive, with black poppies growing up them.

Black Poppy sculpture at Liverpool Central Library in 2015. Image: Writing on the Wall

Poppies repurposed

Ms Bebbington, who has cerebral palsy and survived cancer, studied sculpture at Winchester College of Art, and set up her Liverpool studio in 1993. She now works nationally creating public artworks and exhibiting sculptures.

Faith Bebbington in her studio. Image: Ean Flanders

She has created several pieces of art for Liverpool including a ‘Super Rat’ in the Baltic Triangle reusing over 200 plastic milk bottles and ‘The Runner’ which has appeared in different guises across Liverpool.

Super Rat in the Baltic Triangle. Image: Faith Bebbington

She told LiverpoolWorld: “I kept the poppies because people in the Liverpool community helped me make them at workshops and I used them to make the lamp.

“I used chicken wire and about 60 to 80 of the flowers on the piece. The light shines in between the poppies.”

Close-up image of the black poppies. Image: Faith Bebbington

She added: “The poppies are a reminder about all the black people who served and died during war. All my pieces have a life, a story and a way of connecting people.

“I’d like to see black poppies available everywhere.”

The Runner on Liverpool’s waterfront. Image: Faith Bebbington

Madeline Heneghan, Writing on the Wall Co-Director, said: “At Writing on the Wall we are delighted that the black poppies, which were hand crafted by members of the public, are once again on display in this new installation, providing a lasting legacy.

“That Faith has chosen to create a lamp from the poppies is highly appropriate as it will help to shed much needed light on neglected areas of WWI History - the sacrifices made by black and Asian men and women from across British empire.

“In this commodity driven, throw away culture that now threatens our planet, it is a fantastic example of how materials can be repurposed and recycled to produce a stunning work of art.”

Black poppies and actions of change

Genealogist Selena Carty founded Black Poppy Rose in 2010, to acknowledge the contributions made by the African, Black, Caribbean and Pacific islands communities to various wars since the 16th century.

Black Poppy Rose sells a variety of pin badges and wreaths of remembrance along with collating information for archives and holding events.

Ms Carty said: “It is wonderful to learn that the visuals created not too long ago are not to be thrown away as many of our stories and history have been.

“May the light from the recycled visual art inspire the same momentum on how we illuminate light on the hidden truths about our shared histories.

“Our continued energies to unearth histories of the empire and empower all communities of their roles within the fight for freedom starts with one action of change.

“This is one of those actions that provides a new chapter in British history inclusive of many more voices.”