International Slavery Museum to welcome Jamaican canoe in symbol of slave trade

By Culture24 Reporter | 10 December 2013

A boat filled with resin representations of transported slaves will become a powerful installation at the International Slavery Museum next year

A photo of a large sculpted boat surrounded by wood within a darkened gallery space
Their Spirits, by artist Laura Facey, will dock at the International Slavery Museum in 2014© Donnette Zacca
A five-metre long traditional Jamaican canoe, filled with 1,357 resin representations of enslaved Africans, will be poised on the ground floor of Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum next January in a symbol of strength and unity created by Jamaican artist Laura Facey.

A photo of a series of small dark brown sculptures of people standing in rows
© Donnette Zacca
Their Spirits is intended as a comment on the slave trade, suggesting that the spirits of the tiny figures left the canoe before their bodies.

“The canoe sits on a sea of sugar cane,” explains Facey.

“Visitors, if they’re familiar with Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, may hear the words: ‘None but ourselves can free our mind’.

“The work indicates a way to go forward with a freed sense of spirit. In one moment the viewer of Their Spirits can experience the history and memory of slavery.”

“The intention is for the canoe to retrace the transatlantic slaver ship routes and make stops at the major ports involved. I see this as being an important reconciliation journey.”

Dr Richard Benjamin, the Head of the museum, said his team was “absolutely thrilled” to host the “stunning” and “iconic” work.

“It is a major coup for the museum to be able to display Laura Facey’s remarkable work, which will have a strong impact on our visitors,” he added.

"It's also significant that Their Spirits is going on show in Liverpool – a city central to transatlantic slavery.”

Nine prints and a series of sculptures by Facey will accompany the installation.

  • Their Spirits is on display from January 31 - September 7 2014.

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