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Latitude: 51.4655 / 51°27'55"N
Longitude: -2.5815 / 2°34'53"W
OS Eastings: 359701
OS Northings: 174214
OS Grid: ST597742
Mapcode National: GBR CCF.2J
Mapcode Global: VH88N.6FMF
Plus Code: 9C3VFC89+5C
Entry Name: Statue of Alfred Fagon
Listing Date: 30 September 2022
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1482464
ID on this website: 101482464
Location: Montpelier, Bristol, BS6
Electoral Ward/Division: Ashley
Built-Up Area: Bristol
Traditional County: Gloucestershire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bristol
A bronze bust of playwright Alfred Fagon by David Matusa. It is fixed to a polished black marble plinth.
A statue of 1987 by David Matusa for the Friends of Fagon Committee.
MATERIALS: a bronze bust on a polished black marble pedestal.
DESCRIPTION: the 70cm tall bust of Alfred Fagon is fixed to a square pedestal of 131cm in height. The bust shows Fagon from the waist up with his left hand held out with index finger pointing upwards. The artist’s signature is on the rear of the bust. The front (north-east) face of the pedestal has the inscription: ALFRED FAGON/ 1937 – 1986/ POET PLAYWRIGHT ACTOR/ “THROUGH GRIEF TO HAPPINESS”/ ERECTED/ ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY/ OF HIS DEATH,/ 29 AUGUST 1987,/ BY THE FRIENDS OF FAGON.
The statue to poet, playwright and actor Alfred Fagon (1937-1986) was erected in 1987 by the Friends of Fagon Committee. The committee was formed following the discovery of his sudden death in August 1986. He had died of a heart attack while jogging near his London home, at which time the police had not determined his identity and therefore did not inform his next of kin, and he had been given a pauper’s funeral. The committee worked with the City of Bristol to agree the site in St Paul’s, close to where Fagon had resided during the 1960s and 1970s. Zimbabwean artist David Matusa was commissioned to create the piece and the statue of Alfred Fagon was unveiled by his sister on 29 August 1987, the anniversary of his death, with around 200 people in attendance. In 2008, damage to the plinth was repaired.
Alfred Fagon was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, on 20 June 1937 and he moved to England in 1955. He worked on the railways and served in the army before settling in St Paul’s, Bristol, in the 1960s, where he worked as a welder. In Bristol, he started acting and writing and made stage and television appearances. His first professional appearance on the stage in London was in 1970, in ‘Black Pieces’, as part of the first Black theatre season in the UK. Numerous other productions followed, and he was inspired to write his own poetry and plays, such as 11 Josephine House. He also appeared on television in productions including Z Cars and the BBC drama series Fighting Back. At the time of his death, he was the only Black British playwright to have had work broadcast on national television. The Alfred Fagon Award was created in 1997 to recognise Black British playwrights and by 2022 has become the leading award to recognise and celebrate playwrights of Caribbean and African descent who are resident in the UK.
The statue of Alfred Fagon of 1987 by David Matusa, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Alfred Fagon was an accomplished actor and writer who was among the most notable Black British playwrights of the 1970s and 1980s;
* Fagon’s sudden death in 1986 inspired the commission of this statue as a fitting tribute to him and his work. The creation of a theatre award in his name has since celebrated and supported Black British playwrights.
* as a dignified and life-like composition by Zimbabwean sculptor David Matusa that captures the spirit of the subject atop a polished black marble plinth and displays artistic merit;
* it occupies its original location, close to the subject's former home, where it forms a prominent public work of art.
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