Wardie Primary School mural which features golliwog may be removed following Black Lives Matter protests

The City of Edinburgh Council could repaint a controversial mural in a school assembly hall which features a golliwog following the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.
The mural may be removed as the council review the painting (Pic: Wardie primary school)The mural may be removed as the council review the painting (Pic: Wardie primary school)
The mural may be removed as the council review the painting (Pic: Wardie primary school)

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that in 2013 the council had refused to remove the image at Wardie Primary School after a parent complained to the police that it was racist and offensive.

In response, the council said the depiction was a historical artefact within a mural of significant artistic importance.

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The Alice in Wonderland mural, painted in 1936, placed the golliwog in the central panel, however the Lewis Carroll story makes no mention of the figure.

The mural was restored intact in 2011 with a £17,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The city’s education convener, Ian Perry, and the vice-convener, Alison Dickie, said the council accepted its original position that keeping it would prompt critical discussion of racism and past attitudes should be revisited.

Edinburgh has historical features, including the Wardie primary school mural, which hide or reveal the city’s involvement in the slave trade and other racist practices and attitudes,” they said.

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“In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, we will be reviewing this decision, listening to black and ethnic minority voices.

“We will work with the school community, young people, parents and staff – to critically examine the historical evidence around us, ensuring that black history and its role in our city are a core part of an inclusive curriculum. In this way, we will understand the wrongs of the past and dismantle their harmful and persistent legacy in present day racism and structural inequalities.”

Speaking about the Wardie mural, Professor Rowena Arshad, the co-director of the centre for education for racial equality in Scotland at Edinburgh University, said: “If we want to talk about the golliwog in history, it belongs in the Museum of Childhood [in central Edinburgh], anti-racist teaching packs and television programmes, not a primary school.”

She added that the mural was an anachronism and should be removed.

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The golliwog is a fictional black character that dates back to the 19th century, when it appeared in children’s books. It was also used in the marketing of Robertson’s jam until the late 20th century, when the figure became increasingly controversial.