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29 October 2014

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You are in: Suffolk > History > Abolition > Frozen in time

Freezer artwork

Freezer artwork

Frozen in time

A new exhibition on the abolition of slavery has opened in Ipswich. Alongside traditional display boards are specially commissioned artworks which feature a bowl of frozen urine in an ice-cream freezer.

Abolition - The Thomas Clarkson Story is a new exhibition at Ipswich Museum. It commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act which was passed by the British Parliament in 1807.

Clarkson lived and campaigned from his home at Playford Hall. For full explanations about his life and work read the other features in our Abolition section.

It also coincides with African History Month. The woman behind AHM is Del White who runs the educational Nia Project in Ipswich.  She's also been involved in setting up the Abolition exhibition: "It's a massive year for us. What this exhibition does is tell the story of unheard voice and unknown heroes.

African costumes

Costumes on display

"There's a wonderful picture of an enslaved African called Leonard Parkinson. Oftentimes you've never seen this image of an African holding a gun and fighting for freedom.

"This exhibition says that we have a lot of diversity in the community, even in the museum. People should make it their business to experience the Abolition exhibition."

Food for thought

Exhibits include information boards about the slave routes, life for slaves on plantations in the Americas and Clarkson and Suffolk's role in the anti-slavery movement in the UK.

As part of the exhibition, London-based artist Anissa-Jane was commissioned to produce some works.  They include a video, a collage of the deck of a slave ship which uses photographs of Ipswich people's legs (!) and a freezer.



The freezer is arguably the most interesting. It's a shop ice-cream style freezer containing a singing bowl and a manacle.  The bowl is filled with urine which has frozen.

Anissa-Jane says the urine represents the human waste slaves had to lie in when they were transported across the Atlantic Ocean: "These are chains, but they weren't actually used on enslaved people. The wooden stick is used to make the bowl sing, but it's unable to do that because the urine is frozen.

"The freezer represents an unmarked grave. I came to the museum and handled a lot of the slavery objects.  I think of my ancestors lying in their own urine and faeces."

Sidegate Lane pupils

Sidegate Lane pupils

At the opening of the exhibition children from Sidegate Primary School in Ipswich read out a poem, while singer Doreen Thobekile and Ipswich-born poet Deep Cobra also performed. Listen to some of their work by clicking on the audio link on this page.

The exhibition runs at Ipswich Museum on the High Street until next July.  African History Month runs from September until the start of November. You can pick up a programme of events from venues and outlets across Ipswich and Suffolk.

Bury St Edmunds event

Moyses Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds is also holding a day of Abolition events commemorating Thomas Clarkson's role on Saturday 6 October.  He lived in the town in 1806 before moving to Playford later in his life.

Historian and storyteller Maureen James will host sessions at 11am, 1pm and 3pm when she'll play Clarkson's wife Catherine who will tell her husband's story.

There's also a chance to see Bury St Edmunds' anti-slavery petition. Ring 01284 729713 for more details.

last updated: 11/03/2008 at 17:04
created: 27/09/2007

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