In commemoration of the black contribution to World War One, over 100 black poppies have been hand crafted by members of the public under the guidance of renowned artist Faith Bebbington. Faith has taken these poppies and created a stunning art work is on display in the hub of Central Library as part of the City’s Weeping Windows experience. Weeping Widow is the iconic poppy sculpture that is currently cascading down the pillars of St George hall.
The Black Poppy sculpture idea arose out of a Writing on the Wall heritage project which focuses on an archive of letters and documents highlighting the plight of black soldiers, seafarers, and workers in Liverpool following demobilisation in 1919. This archive contains the testimony of men from the Caribbean, West Africa and other colonial territories, who had fought for England on land and at sea during the Great War and were then left stranded, destitute and subject to racial violence on the streets of Liverpool. The documents reveal a plight of daily racism and loss of jobs because of the boycott by white workers, a boycott often supported by the trades unions. This tension led to the race riots of 1919, which resulted in many serious assaults and attacks and the murder of Bermudian seafarer Charles Wootton. The Black Poppy sculpture is designed to raise awareness of the events of 1919 and the historic experience of Liverpool’s black community and to highlight the sacrifices made by Black families during the First World War and the period that followed.
Writing on the Wall have been working with a group of dedicated volunteers drawn from the local community who catalogued and digitized the archive to create a dedicated website. The documents can be viewed at www.greatwar-to-raceriots.co.uk. A selection of the archive is on display of the third floor of central library.