A Fine Art graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has spoken of his pride at being asked to create an artwork as part of a national arts education project to help people better understand the impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Jarvis Brookfield has decorated one of the 10 giant globes that currently stand in different parts of the city which form a walking trail covering different aspects of the history, legacy and future of the slave trade.
Trails are also appearing in six other host cities – Liverpool, Birmingham, London, Swansea, Leeds and Bristol.
Jarvis’s globe titled ‘From Roots to Fruit’, which is 1.7m tall, is on prominent display in Town Hall Square, next to the city’s landmark fountain, where it is seen by hundreds of shoppers and workers every day.
Jarvis, who has just completed an MA in Fine Art at DMU, is fascinated and inspired by the mystical, the mythological, varying states of consciousness and religious artefacts.
This has resulted in a piece of art consisting of impactful psychedelic swirls of colour and semi-abstract images of flowers to show that ‘despite all the suffering, there is still beauty around us.
The main colours – pink, yellow, and blue green – have been inspired, but slightly adapted, by the colours of the Cameroonian flag, which forms part of Jarvis’s own mixed heritage.
Jarvis said: “It’s culturally very important to a person of mixed heritage like me. I never knew about the impact of the slave trade while I was growing up.
“Despite having African heritage, I was only really made fully aware of this aspect of history over the last five years or so through black history month and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I can remember being taught about 1066 and the battle of Hastings and Hitler and the Nazi’s, but nothing like this was taught at school.”
“I don’t want to diminish the terrible acts committed at all but what I really enjoyed about working on this project was thinking about the process of how pain and suffering can be transmuted into something beautiful which is largely the story of humanity. A constant cycle of destruction and creation.
“So, this was a great opportunity to communicate that despite all the suffering, there is still beauty around us.
“This is one of the great things about art. It can remind us how beautiful the world can be. So, the design of my globe to large extent is emblematic of the fact that, despite the difficulties we face, we continually rise above adversity.
“Jesse Couenhoven, a professor of theology, said that God has written evil into the storyline of life, but it generally takes a positive trajectory, so that what you end up with is not a tragedy but a tale of hope and inspiration. Which I found fits beautifully with the theme ‘still we rise’ that I was given to respond to.
“I think it’s positive and healthy for us all to learn about this period of history.
“I hope that the people who sit here in Town Hall Square and see this globe may have the opportunity to meditate and contemplate upon the things about our humanity that historically and cross-culturally unite us all as opposed to what divides us.
“I’m grateful to be a part of the trail and contribute to this story in a positive way.”
Another Fine Art MA graduate, Marcus Dove, has also created a globe artwork which is on display in the city centre.
DMU is also on the art trail with one of the globes standing in Hawthorn Square, close to the university’s Stephen Lawrence Research Centre.
Artist Lakwena Maciver’s design responds to the theme ‘Expanding Soul’ with a bright red, gold and green globe emblazoned with the words ‘Staying Power’ on one side and ‘Power Staying’ on the other.
It was created to celebrate the spirit and culture of the African diaspora that ‘even in the face of incredible suffering, has endured and found vibrant expressions across the world in music, art, food and so much more’.
Posted on Wednesday 7th September 2022