The University of Warwick welcomes Turner Prize winner Veronica Ryan’s iconic Breadfruit sculpture to campus where it will be installed outside the Warwick Arts Centre, joining 25 other artworks that form the University’s sculpture park. Around 3 feet tall, the newly cast bronze sculpture is a powerful visual representation of cultural identity, history and the interconnectedness of communities.

Breadfruit holds significant cultural and historical relevance, symbolising sustenance, resilience, and the exchange of cultures across the globe. Originating from the Pacific Islands, breadfruit has been a staple food for centuries, playing a vital role in communities, their traditions and fostering cultural connections.

Sarah Shalgosky, Principal Curator at the University of Warwick said: “Veronica Ryan’s Breadfruit sculpture aligns perfectly with our university’s commitment to promoting artistic excellence. We believe that art has the power to inspire, challenge, and provoke thought, and we are thrilled to provide our students, staff, and visitors with the opportunity to engage with such a meaningful and thought-provoking piece.”
Veronica Ryan added: “Breadfruit is cast in bronze and is a permanent material. It is not a monumental sculpture and relates to the human scale and is also playful. With all the world crises we are experiencing, this is a wonderful time to embrace positivity. Representation and cultural visibility being evident in public spaces is crucial. I’m pleased Breadfruit will be at the University of Warwick.”

The sculpture is arriving as a new fully funded PhD Studentship on Creolising Caribbean foodways: Breadfruit from the mid-nineteenth century to the present starts. The doctorate will be overseen by academics at The University of Warwick and Kew Gardens.

In the 18th Century, Captain William Bligh undertook a famous expedition to transport the Breadfruit plant from Tahiti to the Caribbean to provide a cheaper food source for enslaved people. Speaking on the sculpture and its historical significance, Rebecca Earle, Food Historian and Professor of History at the University of Warwick, commented: “The story of the Breadfruit’s transfer to the Caribbean has been celebrated in films, but the real history is equally dramatic, and casts the role of the UK in bringing this new plant to the Caribbean in a decidedly less heroic light.

“The Breadfruit’s triumph as a mainstay of the cuisine of many Caribbean islands is due not to the generosity of 18th-century British colonialism, but rather the ingenuity of ordinary people across the West Indies. It symbolises many aspects of the Caribbean’s complex history. This beautiful sculpture is a welcome addition to Warwick’s campus and reminds us of our interconnected histories, and of the importance of food to our lives.”

Warwick Arts Centre forms part of the University of Warwick’s £100million investment into arts, which includes the RIBA award winning faculty of arts building and a new centre in Venice.