- How money from slavery made Greater Manchester
- The importance of cotton in north west England
- The Lancashire cotton famine
- Smoking, drinking and the British sweet tooth
- Black presence in Britain and north west England
- Resistance and campaigns for abolition
- The bicentenary of British abolition
Colonialism and the expansion of empires
History of the Benin bronzes, Plate 6: Punitive Expedition
Tony Phillips (1952-), 1984
Object number G884
Purchased with the assistance of the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1990
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Enlarge image © Gallery Oldham
These prints are from a series by Liverpool-born black British artist Tony Phillips, exploring the history of the Benin bronzes and European attitudes towards them.
The Benin bronzes are a group of sculptures and plaques made by artists in Benin from the 16th century onwards. They were displayed in the palace of the Oba, or king, of Benin until 1897, when the British invaded the kingdom, sacked the palace and took the bronzes as reparation for British deaths during armed conflict in the country. They ended up on the international art market and many found their way into the collections of major museums in Britain and Europe. Racist attitudes towards African cultures were so entrenched at this time that many Europeans refused to believe such sophisticated sculpture could possibly have been produced by African artists. For a personal response to Tony Phillips' work, see Kevin Dalton-Johnson's article, A History of the Benin Bronzes.
This information has been provided by curators from Gallery Oldham.