Images: Scottish Black Lives Matter Mural Trail Confronts a Colonial History
Ryan Buchanan, Hub
Throughout history, monumental shifts in society have often led to revolutions in art. This moment is no different. The worldwide response to the murder of George Floyd, and countless other innocent Black people, taken alongside the growing global Black Lives Matter movement, has awakened the spirit of artists in the U.S. and abroad.
While the Black Lives Matter installations in New York City (with one mural brilliantly positioned directly across from Trump Tower) are among the most talked about, creators across the continents are producing powerful work to foster solidarity and spur conversation in their own countries.
Indeed, Scotland’s reckoning with its own deeply-rooted history of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism propelled Edinburgh-based creative producer Wezi Mhura, a specialist in large-scale events, to organize its artistic talent to realize the country’s first Black Lives Matter Mural Trail.
Mhura worked with a wide range of Scotland’s Black, Asian, and minority ethnic artists, and partnered with venues and arts organizations across the country to launch the exhibition within a week. Currently, displays are featured on more than a dozen spaces and sites across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, with more planned to follow.
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The artworks, colorful, challenging, moving, powerful, and diverse, were inspired by the themes of “I Can’t Breathe” and BLM, and crossed mediums from painting to photography, video to digital art and beyond. The Scotland-based artists, all with unique frames of reference, represent a global perspective, and diverse origins such as Cape Verde, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and even the U.S.
Through its creation, Mhura intends to create a dialogue and debate about Scotland’s history and how it should be represented in the future—something America is viscerally grappling with via its own controversial and still standing monuments of oppression.
“The Scottish government says it recognizes the strength in its aspirations to a more equal and more diverse society going forward,” she explains with a sense of guarded optimism, “and we hope this Mural Trail will help to start the conversations that need to be happening now. It’s been amazing to connect with so many talented artists, with roots in so many different places, who have been so enthusiastic about getting behind this project.”
The Scottish BLM Mural Trail demonstrates how art can still be at the forefront of change—stimulating dialogue while also adding a new dynamic to currently dormant venues across the nation.