LewishamNews

University to host talk on controversial statues and their colonial past

A university is hosting talks on the controversial topic of statues and their colonial past for the UK’s national festival of the humanities.

Goldsmiths University, in Lewisham Way, Deptford, will host events including a walking tour, workshops and round table debate at The Albany Arts Centre in Douglas Way, Deptford, as part of Being Human, the festival of the humanities.

A walking tour will take a journey through Lewisham, exploring the meanings of figures connected to the slave trade and colonisation, on Thursday.

The tour will examine symbols of naval power that dominate the borough’s statues, from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to the Anchor in Deptford High Street, to the statues of Sir Frances Drake, Horatio Nelson and Robert Blake in Deptford Town Hall. 

A day of creative workshops and round table talks on November 15, will probe the history of Britain’s imperial statues, including those at Deptford Town Hall.

The tour will examine the many symbols of naval power that dominate the public realm, from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to the Anchor in Deptford High Street and Robert Blake in Deptford Town Hall (Picture: Goldsmiths University)

The events, which will be led by senior lecturer Milly Williamson, come after the Government’s recently published guidance on how organisations should decide on the fate of “historic” statues.

Alongside the workshops and tour, young filmmakers will be working with Freddie Osborne, lecturer in digital film and video at Goldsmiths, to produce a documentary film on the controversial statuary and voice their perspectives.

Dr Williamson said: “A lot of the debate about statues makes the assumption that they naturally occurred like mushrooms in the early dawn, when in fact there was a great deal of intentionality aimed at shaping viewpoints about the present day when they were constructed and constricting possible futures like the end of colonial rule. 

“These workshops aim to end the cosy notions that these statues represent history and instead ask and answer the more grounded questions that will be essential in deciding their fate.”

Events are free of charge and require advance booking through the Being Human Festival website.

Pictured top: Events will probe the history of Britain’s Imperial Statues, including those at Deptford Town Hall (Picture: Goldsmiths University)

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