West Leeds residents welcome David Oluwale sculpture garden plans at Left Bank meeting

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An artist's impression of what the David Oluwale garden might look like

By Carla Booth

West Leeds residents were invited to discuss the issues surrounding David Oluwale’s life and death that are still prevalent today – and welcomed plans for a sculpture garden in his name.

Last night’s event at Left Bank in Burley was facilitated by the David Oluwale Memorial Association (DOMA), Leeds City Council and Leeds 2023 advisor Saphra Bennet, who offered an inclusive welcome that set the tone for the evening making discussion feel more open and easy.

Also offering a welcome speech was DOMA board member and Hyde Park and Woodhouse councillor Abigail Marshall Katung.

DOMA board member Dr Max Farrar spoke of the theft of the David Oluwale plaque and joked that it may have been a blessing in disguise as it provided large amounts of positive publicity and interest.

West Leeds residents were the focal point of last night’s event, being asked to speak to one another as well as the board members, with questions posed to them as discussion starters.

The discussion surrounded what questions needed to be asked in relation to David Oluwale and the issues his life and death provoke people to think about and how Leeds could be a welcoming city to people that are struggling with similar issues to those David had during his life.

Whilst having these discussions attendees were encouraged to write their thoughts down, with board members also making notes of things being discussed. Much of the feedback was positive.

It was announced at the end that these notes would be collected and typed up in order to help guide DOMA’s future work.

The event also offered the people of West Leeds a chance to see a Maquette of the sculpture that will be placed in the Meadow Lane Green Space, funding permitted.

There was a short video played showing the construction of the Maquette and a description of the inspiration behind the design of the sculpture by Yinka Shonibare, the world-famous British-Nigerian artist.

Shonibare stated that he was inspired by thoughts of what David Oluwale would potentially remember of his childhood in Nigeria. He also stated that he made use of patterns seen in Batik; a fabric designed in Indonesia, manufactured in Holland and then primarily sold to countries in West Africa. He described this fabric and its patterns as representative of the interconnected relationship between Europe and West Africa. 

It was announced that the Maquette will be placed in an exhibit in The Tetley in early September this year so more people can view it.

DOMA is holding two more events like this across Leeds in the coming week, on Thursday 7 July at Sever Arts in Chapel Allerton and on Tuesday 12 July at the Old Fire Station in Gipton.

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