About the object
There are photographs of three Slough Golden Jubilee Arches in Slough Museum Collection, and it appears there were similar Arches constructed in other towns. This photograph is from 1887 and shows the Victoria Golden Jubilee Arch which was located near Slough train station. You can see the station building, still standing today beyond the arch. By the time of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, Queen Victoria had become remote after Albert’s death, and there was significant republican sentiment, not helped by the Queen’s alleged response when advised by Gladstone on the funding of the celebrations, ‘The people must pay’.
William Morris wrote scathingly of the Golden Jubilee and the ‘applause of those whose be-all and end-all is the continuance of respectable robbery … now the monstrous stupidity is on us, one’s indignation swells pretty much to the bursting-point.’
Jubilee-ation! – A History of Royal Jubilees in Public Parks https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/jubilee-ation/jubilee-parks/
About the artwork
Visual artist Fahima Mahbub selected this item to consider both Slough’s past and Slough today – a plural population, distinctive as the most ethnically diverse local authority area outside London. Slough is a hotspot for cultural diversity and beauty, with a long and rich history stemming from the transport system built here. In 1887 arches were built across Slough to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria and her reign, however the imperialism and colonialism that came with the British Empire left a deep mark on the countries and the people they exploited.
Fahima turned the photograph into a jigsaw, sending out jigsaw ‘pieces’ and art materials to a range of participants across Slough and then working with them via Zoom to discuss and draw. She explains – “The final piece celebrates colonies and the individual riches they brought with them put together, instead of just the rule of the British monarch, because in actuality it is this diversity that makes Slough and Britain what it is today.”