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Councillors support restoration of Tschabalala Self sculpture outside the De La Warr Pavilion

Restoration of 'Seated', photo by Cllr Mark Legg

'Seated' by Tschabalala Self is the latest sculpture to be displayed outside the De La Warr Pavilion.

Following the shocking news of vandalism, with the sculpture's black skin being covered crudely in white paint, Rother Alliance Councillors were warmed to see many members of the public from across Rother and beyond attend a restoration event on May 15th, with each attendee doing their bit to scrub off some of the vandals' paint. The event was so well attended that the queue to help restore the sculpture stretched beyond the length of the De La Warr's iconic footprint and many stayed queuing for several hours to take part.

Cllr Beverley Coupar and her 8 year old daughter taking part in the restoration of Tschabalala Self's 'Seated', photo by Cllr Andrew Mier

Amongst the queue, and in a show of solidarity, were Councillors from all the groups of the Rother Alliance, who shared in the restoration experience. One such Councillor was Cllr Beverley Coupar, from Sedlescombe and Westfield Ward, who attended with her daughter (pictured) and took the opportunity to get stuck in cleaning away the defacing paint. The ward Councillors for Bexhill Central (where the De La Warr is situated), Cllr Christine Bayliss and Cllr Ruairi McCourt also attended. Cllr McCourt said of the event, "The defacing of the statue was an appalling racist act, but what was heartening was the fact that 300 or so local people turned out to repair the damage. Bexhill will not let racists poison our public life."

Councillor Ashan Jeeawon of Collington Ward said of the incident, "I was disappointed to hear that it had been vandalised with paint. I was then shocked to hear that her skin had been sprayed with white paint. No longer an act of vandalism, but a clear act of racism. Sadly, acts of racism like this are nothing new, but seeing the community come together afterwards shows that ultimately, kindness always wins."

Attending the restoration, from Catsfield and Crowhurst Ward, Cllr Chas Pearce commented, "l was amazed when l arrived at about 11.30am to see the number of people wanting to help, some waiting over two hours to get to the task in hand." Cllr Pearce added, "[This was] a perfect illustration that we, as a community, will not tolerate this type of behaviour, and will react to it in a positive manner."

Photo of the crowd by Cllr Chas Pearce

Councillor for Bexhill Kewhurst ward, Cllr Brian Drayson, recalled some fascinating conversations that were had with local residents whilst waiting in the queue alongside Robertsbridge Councillor Susan Prochak MBE. Cllr Drayson said, "[we] were pleased to do our bit in standing up to racism." which was echoed by Cllr Prochak who said, "It was really heartening to see the number of residents and other Alliance councillors who turned out to take part in cleaning up the shockingly racist act of spraying this powerful sculpture. We were proud to queue for about two hours to take part in this clean up, showing racism has no place here."

The general feeling was that this was a positive event, in the face of an awful act of prejudice, with a real sense of community and togetherness about it. As Bexhill Sackville Councillor, Cllr Hazel Timpe said, "It was truly a magnificent response to such wanton destruction."

Affirming the Rother Alliance's commitment to equality, the Council's newly appointed Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Equality and Age-Friendly Communities, Cllr Sam Coleman said, "There is no question that this was racially motivated. To have this magnificent sculpted self-portrait depicting the artist as a confident, comfortable black woman taking up her own space, right here in Rother is great and I know from conversations I've had that some people of colour locally have really resinated with this artwork and felt seen and represented by it. To have it vandalised therefore, in quite a deliberate and aggressive manner, is something that should appall everyone. On the flip side, the fact so many people came out to restore the artwork is deeply moving and sends a clear, strong message of unity and solidarity to those who wish to divide us."

View from the balcony by Cllr Jimmy Stanger

In the coming term Rother District Council, led by the Rother Alliance, will be developing a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. It is important that anyone in Rother, no matter who they are, should be able to live, work, thrive and express themselves.

To find out more from the De La Warr Pavilion about Tschabalala Self's work visit:

To fond out more about Tschabalala Self's work, visit:


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