Open daily 10am-5pm from 20 Sept 2023
Newly installed in the foyer for everyone to see is a series of paintings by Che Lovelace commissioned by St James’s to mark the 250th anniversary of Cugoano’s baptism.
Che Lovelace paints the intersecting lives of the people, flora and fauna of his native Trinidad. Infused with rich colours and bold shapes, his art straddles the boundary between magical realism, abstraction and the beauty of the natural world.
Quobna Ottobah Cugoano described his personal experience of being trafficked at the age of 13 to work on a plantation in Grenada and bought by a merchant to England where he gained his freedom in 1772, in his book Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery published in 1787. His baptism was an act which promised his ongoing freedom; however he didn’t live long enough to see slavery abolished by the UK Parliament. With his exact dates of birth and death unknown, Cugoano’s baptism on 20 August 1773 at St James’s is the only place and date that is clearly and verifiably part of his story.
Che Lovelace was selected by a process led by curator Ekow Eshun and involving members of the church’s congregation and clergy. The commission is supported by generous donations from international lawyer and philanthropist Dr Tai-Heng Cheng and his husband, gallerist Mr Cole Harrell, both American Friends of St James’s Piccadilly.