By Nii B. Andrews

There is a mysterious but compelling story of a slave ship from the 19th century.

All the slaves on that ship went blind except for one. Needless to state, almost all of them were thrown overboard – completely in accordance with the abysmal moral standards and abject brutality of those days.

But are our attitudes and morals any better today? Are we more caring today?

Lubiana Himid utilizes this tragic story as the basis for her new painting Le Rodeur: The Lock (2016).

There’s a strange foreboding in this work that seems to go beyond a specific time and place; the sea is once again an uneasy presence….at once a witness and an executor.

Le Rodeur: The Lock (2016), Lubaina Himid. Courtesy the artist and Hollybush Gardens

Himid insists that her work investigates ‘the depths of despair, the pain of loss, and an understanding of what actually matters to me’.

Immigration and identity remain at the heart of today’s international politics with the world’s majority holding stopports – not passports; the former leading to the most inane, moronic questions and scrutiny from scruffy, gruff officialdom at legitimate entry points.

Meditations and reflections on home and belonging have always been an intrinsic part of Himid’s work in which she repeatedly calls to mind the sea, and accompanying associations of journeys and exile.

AMADOU SUMAILA by Spanish journalist César Dezfuli. This photograph of an African teenager just rescued from the Mediterranean Sea won a £15 000 award – the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2017.

She references not only fatal crossings, but the global movement of people and culture.

Today, in the midst of an international refugee crisis and the apparent resurgence of functioning slave markets, such work takes on added agency and urgency.

Lubiana Himid.

Himid was born in Zanzibar where her father was from; her mother from east Lancaster.

Himid lives and works in Preston and is professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire.

She has just been nominated for the Turner Prize.

5 thoughts on “BLIND ON A SLAVE SHIP.”

  1. Thank you, Nii for sharing such a powerful reminder not of centuries past but the present and immediate future.

    We are no more moral or caring than our forbears. We have learned nothing from the past.

  2. At last, some focus on the refugee crisis and the slave trade which is an inevitable extension of this crisis.

    “People’s ” (note spelling ) have assembled in West Africa, in a typical knee jerk reaction to the slave market (not the causative refugee situation).

    Meanwhile the Pontiff is playing diplomatic papal games with another refugee crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    I thought he would be more forthright and demand more from those responsible but alas it is business as usual.

  3. Thank you, AA and SJ

    I am not at all surprised that discerning minds such as yours will see the true state of affairs.

    This is obviously the first step towards solving the problem.

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