In advance of Laura Facey's in conversation talk with art critic Edward Lucie-Smith, Saturday 19 July at 2pm, the artist describes how it felt to work with the International Slavery Museum on Their Spirits.The talk is free, more information can be found here.
"Paddling spirits into our lives... these words were said by me but singled out by the International Slavery Museum as they interviewed me in October 2013 in preparation for my upcoming exhibition Their Spirits. It is a wonderful thing and an honor to be listened to so carefully that captions are made.
Not only have I been given the privilege of having my work exquisitely displayed at a most important and prestigious museum but also I was entrusted with teaching an art class to the young people of Liverpool.
We created three panels of paper – one – 72 x 16 inches (183 x 41 cm) – the size allotted for a man on a slave ship; the second – 70 x 14 inches (178 x 36 cm) – the space allotted for a woman; the third – 60 x 14 inches (153 x 36 cm) – the space allotted for a boy or girl. The students bravely filled every inch of the panels with starkly honest images of slaves constrained, confined and in pain. It was a thrill to see the confidence of each student grow by the end of our class.
As I walked through Liverpool it was also a thrill to find posters announcing my exhibition.
It’s important to me that my work speaks to its’ viewer. At the time of the opening of Their Spirits it was heartening to be told by one viewer that upon reading the poem, ‘ I am a thought without limitation…’, there was an immediate feeling of peace. I’m most grateful for the opportunity of joining with the Museum to be able to effect such transformation.
The International Slavery Museum is indeed bold and to be commended. Instead of sweeping delicate and controversial subjects like slavery and the colonial violence in the Belgian Congo under the carpet, they have in fact confronted the issues head on giving each side an opportunity to say its ‘peace’. For me this is the real work that our planet needs at this time - a new consciousness.
My heartfelt thanks to the International Slavery Museum for helping to paddle spirit into our lives."