The original 1951 Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the South Bank Exhibition aimed to describe the British character and way of life as well as pointing out their contradictions. The lion of the title represented bravery and courage while the unicorn represented imagination and independence. At the heart of the installation was a sculpture of a flight of ceramic birds, symbolising migration and freedom of speech.
As a homage to this piece, our 2011 Lion and Unicorn installation has been made by artist Gitta Gschwendtner working with 50 young refugees, whose poems - written and spoken - reinterpret the original themes of strength and imagination. A flock of white birds – or are they aeroplanes? – fly down the outdoor corridor linking Waterloo Station with Hungerford Bridge and comes to rest next to Royal Festival Hall.
Participants are from: The Refugee Council, Refugee Youth, The Refugee Home School Support Project, and The Klevis Kola Foundation, working with Joelle Taylor, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Philip Wells and Yemisi Blake.