I received an email from my friend Colin Parratt asking if I knew anything about a bench which his friend Martin had come across. I had to confess it didn’t know anything about it so he sent Martin’s photo to me. Martin lives in Folkestone (UK) and was the drummer in the barn dance band Colin used to play in.
The image looked like a bench based on a 7 hole harmonica. Across the back of the seat there is an inscription “Where Souls Meet”. The back of the bench was a strange shape so I decided to find out more about it.
There was an inscription on the side of the bench so I asked Colin to send me a picture of it so we could see what it said.
When I received Colin’s photo things became clearer. The plaque on the side read,
In memory of Arikę
Musician, visual artist, teacher, therapist, inspirational blues harp player, father, grandfather and a proud black man.
At the bottom of the plaque was a QR code and when I scanned it it revealed a website – https://originsuntold.com
The website belongs to a charity, Origins Untold, a volunteer arts organisation presenting music, poetry, visual arts, fashion and food inspired and created by people of the African diaspora.
The website shows an event was held 12th June 2022, the second anniversary of Arike‘s death, to unveil.
a Blues Harp bench, designed by Pete Phillips and made by Cut Once Woodworks. The group walked from the Bandstand on the Leas in Folkestone, down the Zig Zag path to the Lower Coastal Park, where the bench is situated.
Origins Untold was founded in 2015 by the late, great Arike (aka Stan Grant), who sadly passed away on 12 June 2020 after a tragic accident.
Arike’s vision for the organisation was to broaden and change the conversation about race and about members of the African diaspora. To honour this, it is committed to breaking stereotypes, making unseen connections and unearthing buried histories, acknowledging the contributions that Black people have made to the history of this region and to its present.
In memory of Arikẹ, founder of Origins Ontold – 1949-2020
“Whatever a Black man can do to remind himself that he is fully human, to do it and to keep doing it… I don’t think we need to do more than that…it is just to remind ourselves that we are fully human.”
(from the Origins Untold website)