Special event with James Robertson and Carolyn Scott as part of the EMPIRE exhibition.
Thursday 13th August, 6.00pm onwards for 7pm start. Ends 9pm.
Acclaimed writer James Robertson will read from his award-winning novel Joseph Knight, and talk about the true story on which it is based, of a slave, brought from Jamaica, who won a long battle for his freedom in the Scottish courts in 1778. James’s book was itself one of the inspirations for Carolyn Scott’s EMPIRE project, CONSIDERED CARGO, a site-specific sound installation focusing on the engagement of North East Scotland, and in particular Montrose, with the historic slave trade. An open discussion will follow the event.
‘Until I stumbled across the Joseph Knight story, more or less by accident 15 years ago, I was unaware of the substantial role played by Scots in the slave trade and in owning and running slave plantations in North America and the Caribbean. Historians of slavery knew about it, but it simply did not feature as part of the history of Scotland: it was a hidden or forgotten aspect of our past. That is changing slowly, as Carolyn’s exhibition demonstrates, but the full extent to which individual Scots and indeed whole communities – cities, towns, villages and estates the length and breadth of the country – prospered on the back of slave labour is still not widely understood. The source of much of the wealth of 18th-century Scotland was in sugar, rum, tobacco and other products grown, harvested and processed by African slaves in often appalling conditions of servitude. It is a dark history, but also one shot through with brighter shades of hope, courage, moral outrage and – eventually – a determined campaign to bring slavery to an end. We should acknowledge this past if only to remind ourselves that progress is gradual, and that change for the better seldom comes without a struggle.’
Wall Projects II,
The Old Ropeworks,
13 Bents Road,
Montrose, DD10 8QA
EMPIRE Exhibition runs: Saturday 25 July – Saturday 29 August 2015