Legacies: Commemorating the bicentenary of British abolition

Simply Read

Nathan Carter, 2007
Digital print on paper

Object number M20849
Commissioned by Manchester Art Gallery

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Simply Read

During 2007, Manchester Art Gallery worked with local residents and graphic designer Nathan Carter to explore the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on contemporary life. These digital prints were made as a response to the project.

Objects from the gallery's collections were selected because of their links to slavery. European objects such as sugar nippers, tea wares and historic English pottery from Manchester Art Gallery were compared with African artefacts from Manchester Museum. Members of the group also did their own research, uncovering facts, images, thoughts and feelings. Carter used the group's work as inspiration, developing a sketchbook of ideas which shows his own process of discovery.

Manchester's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade played a significant role in forming the thriving, multi-cultural city in which we live today. The city was transformed by the huge wealth generated by the cotton industry, which depended for its raw material on the slave-worked cotton plantations of the USA. This wealth led to the development of the region's economic, political and social infrastructure, the legacy of which is still evident in the city streets, in buildings and institutions such as the Royal Exchange, the Free Trade Hall, and the city's museums and galleries.

Manchester also has a long tradition of welcoming radical thinkers. It was the first city to sign a petition to abolish the slave trade and invited many former slaves to tour the region to raise awareness of the horrors of slavery.

The legacy of slavery is also apparent in the presence of Manchester's black diaspora communities, which continue to play a significant role in shaping the economic, social, cultural and political life of contemporary British society.

This information was provided by curators from Manchester Art Gallery.