The story behind the design - Slavery Remembrance Day

Take a closer look at the layers of meaning behind each aspect of our artwork for Slavery Remembrance Weekend 2020

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When the word 'marketing' is mentioned, the first thing people think of is that you make pretty posters to get your brand out there in the world. This is a very vague assumption, and what many people outside of the industry don’t realise, is that the poster you walk past in the street or look at from the window on the bus, can take weeks (if not, months) to create and curate.

The version you are looking at has been reworked multiple times to get everything right; the colour, the layout, the design, the size in order to totally encompass the meaning behind the brand, and the message we want to bring out. Nothing we produce is just for cosmetic purposes - we want our designs to have a meaning to them. 

Recently, I have been working on our branding for Slavery Remembrance Day, for the International Slavery Museum, and I am going to give you a glimpse into my mind of how this design started as scribbled notes on paper to now a fully-fledged campaign. 

Themes of Slavery Remembrance Weekend

Due to Covid-19 and the impacts of the government guidelines, the 21st annual Slavery Remembrance Day has become an online event this year. The themes that our activities will focus on overall is empowerment and healing, which are very fitting for 2020. The challenges I had to overcome when producing the artwork for this year’s Slavery Remembrance Weekend was to make sure that the promo  for each activity over the weekend-long programme would receive an equal level of exposure. But how can I make each poster look different, yet still has the ability to reflect the overall campaign creative which symbolises the importance of the history and legacy of slavery? 

promotional image for creative workshops featuring kente cloth design

An African link - kente cloth 

The answer to that was to use a symbolic feature. In this case, our history of Slavery goes back to the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which has strong links to African heritage. Therefore, the kente cloth seemed like a fitting symbol. The kente cloth is a colourful piece of garment with key symbols stencilled into the pattern and is strongly associated with mourning. Each colour used within the kente cloth reflects a significant meaning; 

  • Blue - Peace, Togetherness, Love, Harmony
  • White - Pureness, Cleansing Rites, Festivals 
  • Grey - Healing and Cleansing Rituals
  • Green - Growth, Renewal, Spiritual Growth 
  • Maroon - Mother Earth, Healing 
promotional image for Zita Holbourne lecture, featuring kente cloth design

So if you look closely at our main Slavery Remembrance Weekend creative at the top of this page, does it look purple? I’ll let you into a secret... there is no purple in the picture. The colour combination within the kente pattern is maroon, grey and blue to reflect the meaning behind Slavery Remembrance Weekend.

So alternating the colours used for each activity, whether that is a lecture, a virtual tour or a creative workshop – using no more than 3 of the colours above to represent the themes and meanings behind each activity not only kept the design consistent, but also maintained its link to Africa and Slavery. 

Black Lives Matter

On top of Covid-19, Black Lives Matter has been one of the most pivotal moments within our society. A Black Lives Matter campaign is easily recognisable with its impactful black background. To show our support for this movement, half of our advertisement contains the black background you may have shared on social media for #BlackOutTuesday. We pay tribute to all the lives taken through racism, and to support and elevate the work of the Black communities, to make a positive change to the world. 

promotional image for video about Slavery Remembrance Day featuring kente cloth design

Sankofa Bird

The most important symbol used for Slavery Remembrance Day is the Sankofa Bird. The bird is picking up an egg from its back and represents the importance of reaching into the past and retrieving knowledge and lessons learnt to bring it into the future and take action. 

This symbolic feature alongside our statement 'We Remember. We Act' demonstrates that what we have learnt from history and what we acknowledge in the present will enable us to act for the future to make a positive change to society. 

2020 Slavery Remembrance Weekend events

We hope you will be able to join us online this year for Slavery Remembrance Weekend. Check our programme of online events on our website or use the #SRDAtHome hashtag on social media to be kept up to date on all of our news and online activities. And if you try any of our craft activities at home don't forget to share photos of your creations using the hashtag, we would love to see them.

promotional image for online slavery map featuring kente cloth design