Stitches In Time Project Recalls The History Of The Slave Trade

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 04 April 2007
an embroidery showing a black outline of a figure and a book and a man in a frock coat

The project has been organised by The African Families Foundation

A unique commemoration of the Act to abolish the slave trade in British ships will be unveiled at City Hall London on April 5 2007.

The In Stitches project has brought together British, African and African-Caribbean women in England to create a quilt that depicts historic figures, scenes and artefacts associated with the slave trade and its abolition in British ships two centuries ago.

The project has been organised by The African Families Foundation (TAFF) based in Southwark with the help of a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

A total of 60 squares containing symbols, images and texts have been embroidered by women’s quilting groups meeting in London, Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham.

After being exhibited at City Hall and other venues in London in April, the quilt will be displayed in all these cities in turn before returning to the capital in time for Black History Month in October.

At each of the venues, volunteers will encourage visitors to discuss their thoughts about the issue of slavery and share the emotions stirred up by the images. Recordings of these discussions will be made as part of the project.

a photograph of an embroidered figure

The In Stitches project depicts historic figures, scenes and artefacts associated with the slave trade and its abolition in British ships two centuries ago

“This is a unique way to commemorate the abolition of the slave trade. It has produced a beautiful piece of craftwork that will not only be admired by thousands of people around the country, but also help to stimulate discussion and deeper understanding of the legacy of slavery,” said Sue Bowers, Heritage Lottery Fund Manager for London.

The 1807 Abolition Act outlawed the use of British ships in any aspect of the slave trade that had flourished from Elizabethan times. It led ultimately to the abolition of slavery itself in 1833. Prior to this, slavery had created great wealth for many merchants, shipping companies and landowners in London and other cities such as Liverpool and Bristol.

Banks, insurance companies and major institutions had all benefited from the trade. Its abolition was campaigned for by a wide cross section of people including legal experts, women from across the class divide (often motivated by Christian belief), writers, working people, humanitarians and former slaves.

Nana Ama Amamoo, Director of The African Families Foundation added: “The creation of a quilt is a uniquely feminine way of recording events. The project enables us to remember the past and seek for reconciliation through working together in the present.”

The unveiling of the quilt and an interfaith service of reconciliation will take place on Thursday April 5 2007, at City Hall, London, beginning at 11.30am.

The quilt will then be displayed at the following locations:

April 5 - 30: City Hall, London and Greenwich Maritime Museum; other venues to be confirmed
May 1 - 30: British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and Feminist Archive, Bristol
June 1 - 30: Central Library, Liverpool
July 1 - 30: Soho House, Birmingham
August 16 - 19: NEC, Birmingham for the international Quilt Festival
September 1 - 30: Central Library, Manchester
October 1 - 30: City Hall, London

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