'Racist' vandals spray paint Bexhill sculpture of black woman white

The sculpture entitled 'Seated' by Tschabalala Self was defaced on May 15, 2023. Credit: @rohanjay

The artist behind a sculpture of a black woman facing out to sea says she's "disheartened" after vandals spray painted the artwork white.

The sculpture entitled 'Seated' by Tschabalala Self was defaced on May 15, outside the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, Sussex.

Hundreds of people joined the arts centre on Sunday, May 21, to restore the sculpture in an "act of peaceful resistance".

A statement on De La Warr Pavilion's website reads: "In conversation with the artist, we have been considering what steps to take in order to protect the artwork and the wider impact of this act on our staff and communities.

"We have received considerable support in response to this vandalism and the sculpture will be uncovered so that the restoration is visible to everyone."

Artist Tschabalala Self said: "I want to extend a sincere thank you everyone that participated today in the restoration event.⁣

"I am very disheartened that my sculpture Seated (2022) was targeted and attacked by vandals.

"Despite my disappointment I am not surprised as Black, Female – and especially Black Female bodies – are often targets for abuse.

"Seated proudly represents the beauty of both blackness and femininity, and for these very reasons she has been harmed: covered by her assailant with white spray paint in a futile attempt to erase her colour and, in my mind, her strength.

Artist Tschabalala Self on February 5, 2020, unveiling her paintings as part of an exhibition titled Radical Figures. Credit: David Parry/PA Archive/PA Images

"Despite these efforts, she remains in place and will continue to do so until her time at De La Warr Pavilion is complete.

"Many have derived joy from Seated, and through community support she will be restored to her former likeness.

"I hope that the violence enacted on the sculpture illuminates the persistent issues plaguing the global West.

"Painting the skin of my sculpture white is an obscene act and I feel horribly for individuals in Bexhill-on-Sea for whom this event may have shocked or frightened.

"To my supporters there, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and a promise that I will continue to make work that provokes meaningful change and progress in our shared society."

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: "We received a report on May 16 of the sculpture being vandalised.

"No lines of enquiry have been identified and the matter has been filed pending any further information coming to light.

"Anyone with information about what happened is asked to contact us online or by calling 101 quoting serial 901 of 16/05."