History in art

When the National Art Gallery finally opens, there will be a piece of artwork that gives a glimpse into the journey, from Africa of the enslaved.

The more than 600 monkey pots representing tightly packed slaves on a slave ship.

There will be no images of people, though. Instead, victims of the horrific Atlantic slave trade who were crammed inside slave ships will be represented by more than 600 tightly packed monkey pots in a piece created by Hamilton Wiltshire and his wife, Dawn Wiltshire, under the creative direction of Nick Whittle and with sponsorship by Sir Trevor Carmichael.

Those who lost their lives during the journey have not been forgotten. The display also has more than 100 monkey pots at its base, representing those who died and were thrown overboard.

“[The pots] are all slightly different and to me, this is wonderful. The idea is this is a slave ship. The biggest slave ship had about 600 slaves and we all know that they were tightly packed,” Whittle said.

The pots were crafted from 100 per cent local materials.

Hamilton explained: “The pots were made with Barbadian red clay and rain water that was harvested….The monkey pot is something which came from Africa, although they do not call it by that name throughout the region….The term monkey pot is indigenous to Barbados.”

Prior to receiving the artwork for the National Art Gallery, Director of Cultural Policy in the Ministry of Culture Sports and Youth, Dr Donna Greene said it could be used as a teaching aid to sensitize students to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

“We have Heritage Month in June and Black Awareness Month in February. These are things that we want exhibited,” she said.

Greene challenged Whittle and the Wiltshire couple to continue what they started to create a trilogy of artwork that includes representations of the period before and after slavery.

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