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24 September 2014

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Illustrations to Edward Young’s Night Thoughts
William Blake: Night Thoughts

Slavery and art

A series of exhibitions exploring the theme of slavery runs at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the parliamentary act to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.

Mind Forg’d Manacles: William Blake and Slavery

The first is a touring exhibition by the Hayward Gallery on the romantic poet and visionary William Blake.

Blake grew up at the same time as William Wilberforce and is said to have been inspired by Hull's most famous son.

The exhibition, titled ‘Mind Forg’d Manacles: William Blake and Slavery’, shows many of the watercolours, prints and engravings from his books, which depict his opposition to the slave trade.

Roger Malbert
Roger Malbert, Hayward Gallery curator

Roger Malbert, senior curator at the Hayward Gallery in London explained the sensitivity of Blake’s work:

“The engravings were made by [Blake’s] own method of etching and then coloured by hand.

“So they are very sensitive to light and we can only show them for a short period of time. So this is a rare opportunity to actually see the originals.”

La Bouche du Roi

By contrast, ‘La Bouche du Roi’ is a powerful new work by Benin artist Romuald Hazoumé.

This exhibition confronts the horrors of a slave ship whilst highlighting the modern forms of economic bondage.

The Abolitionists’ Parlour

Acclaimed London-based artist Keith Piper has produced a specially commissioned piece called ‘The Abolitionists’ Parlour’.

The three-screen video installation explores Wilberforce’s role through the writings of a fictional black woman.

Uncomfortable Truths

William Blake: London

Later in the year, ‘Uncomfortable Truths’ addresses how the legacy of slavery continues to inform art and design.

The show reflects on the cross-cultural experience of the transatlantic slave trade by exhibiting new and specially commissioned work by artists from the United States, Britain, Africa and Europe.

Greetings! Wilberforce Women

‘Greetings! Wilberforce Women’ features photographs by women from Hull and Sierra Leone who have been inspired by the Wilberforce 2007 themes of Freedom, Pride, Belief and Change.

Photographers Lee-Karen Stow and Fiona Caley ran photography workshops last year for women in both cities.

Exhibition dates

Mind Forg’d Manacles:  William Blake and Slavery
7 April – 20 May 2007

The Abolitionists’ Parlour: by Keith Piper
5 May – 24 June 2007

La Bouche du Roi: an artwork by Romuald Hazoumé
2 June – 15 July 2007

Uncomfortable Truths:  The Shadow of Slave Trading on Contemporary Art and Design
15 September 2007 – 6 January 2008

Greetings! Wilberforce Women
6 – 28 October 2007

last updated: 12/04/07
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Abolition - 1807

Abolition - 1807

History: Abolition 1807 »

Religion: Ethics of Slavery »

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