Bristol

Seven Saints of St Pauls: Murals honour black Bristolians

  • 26 June 2015
  • From the section Bristol
Mock up of one of the murals on a wall in Argyle Street, St Pauls Image copyright Michele Curtis
Image caption The murals will honour the achievements and legacy of people from St Pauls who broke down racial barriers and worked for full integration

Key people who shaped Bristol's black community are to be immortalised in seven murals on prominent walls around the St Pauls area of the city.

It is the idea of local artist Michele Curtis who plans to first stage an exhibition featuring the people she calls the Seven Saints of St Pauls.

Portraits include the St Pauls Carnival founders and those who led the 1963 Bristol bus boycott.

Ms Curtis said the idea was to celebrate their legacy.

Image caption Artist Michele Curtis talks to her portraits as she is drawing them

"Black history in Bristol stretches far beyond its roots in the slave trade, although we are constantly reminded of the merchants and slave owners of Bristol through the prominent naming of streets, (Guinea Street) buildings (Colston Tower) and statues (Edward Colston)," she said.

The approaching 50th anniversary of the St Pauls Carnival in 2018 inspired Ms Curtis to come up with the idea.

Image copyright Michele Curtis
Image caption Barbara Dettering and Delores Campbell were both key members of the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee set up to highlight open racial discrimination in Bristol

"St Pauls has such a bad reputation - I want to change the perception that nobody and nothing good has come out of here," said Ms Curtis.

Positive initial discussions have been held with Bristol City Council and housing associations to paint the murals on houses or prominent buildings along the route of the carnival procession.

Image copyright Michele Curtis
Image caption As members of the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee, Clifford Drummond and Owen Henry supported the Bristol bus boycott

"Having these murals up in the air is a conversation with your child on the way to school - it's knowledge, history, fun," said Ms Curtis.

"People will ask who they are and why their portrait is on the wall."


Seven Saints of St Pauls

Owen Henry - A founder of the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee (CCC) set up to highlight open racial discrimination in Bristol in the 1960s and supporter of the Bristol bus boycott of 1963

Carmen Beckford - Community development worker and one of the initial organisers of the carnival

Roy Hackett - Co-founder and chair of the CCC which set up and ran the St Pauls Festival

Barbara Dettering - Key member of Bristol West Indian Parents' and Friends' Association and civil rights campaigner

Clifford Drummond - Secretary and treasurer of the CCC

Delores Campbell - First female member of the CCC and co-founder of the St Pauls Festival

Audley Evans - Founder member of CCC


Dr Paul Stephenson OBE, who led the Bristol bus boycott, said educating wider Bristol about "the contribution of immigrants from the Caribbean and particularly Jamaica is very important".

Image copyright Michele Curtis
Image caption Roy Hackett helped set up and run the St Pauls Festival - later renamed the carnival - to help integrate the West Indian community with the rest of Bristol

"It will also serve as a reminder to the next generation of the contribution the past generation has made," he said.

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