IBar News

Artist Commission: Black Lancastrians in the 18th Century

Image: Judges’ Lodgings interior shot with portraits of Lancastrians involved in the business of slavery and mahogany furniture forested by enslaved Africans in the West Indies

The Institute for Black Atlantic Studies (IBAR) is proud to announce its partnership in a bold new project in Lancaster. ‘Facing the Past’ is a collaborative project that will see some of Lancaster’s ‘runaway slaves’ memorialised in Judges’ Lodgings museum and it has been awarded £65,000 to support an artist’s commission for new portraits, school workshops, teacher training and a young people’s exhibition. The museum run by Lancashire County Council Museum Service will work with Lancaster University, the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at the University of Central Lancashire and the Lancaster Black History group.

The core of the Project with funding from the Art Fund and the  Association of Independent Museums includes commissioning a series of new portraits of enslaved Africans based on historical descriptions of slaves in Lancaster These portraits will then be displayed opposite existing portraits of people whose families were involved in the slave trade. Through collaborative art projects, ‘Facing the Past’ aims to reflect, reveal, and redress omissions in our collective memory of the role Lancaster played in the transatlantic slave trade and of the enslaved people who came through or stayed in the city.

Alan Rice, IBAR director, during planning, stressed how valuable it would be to have representations of those enslaved by the merchant families in Lancaster, who often lived anonymous lives in the city. Prof Rice said: “It is wonderful that this will now come to fruition based on some of the lives unearthed by myself and local researchers from Lancaster Black History Group, and moreover that workshops with schools will mean that school children’s artistic responses will also be displayed. I am thrilled to see this project receive the funding it deserves. We are thrilled to distribute the brief for interested portrait artists to bid for this exciting commission”.

The closing date for expression of interest is 8 April 2022. For further information on this artist commission, visit this webpage of Lancashire County Council or download the full artist brief here.