Friday, 13 March 2015

The Blackamoor


This Georgian lead sundial depicting a slave, The Blackamoor, sits in the conservatory at Wentworth Castle Gardens. It was a popular subject for sculpture in the gardens of grand mansions, initially because of the wealth generated by the slave trade. Later, these sculptures became a symbol adopted by the abolitionist movement: 'Am I not a man and a brother?' A notice beside this particular sundial said that it had at one time been painted white as a protest, by students from the college. They have recently removed the white paint and restored it to its former colours. Personally, I find it a powerful and moving reminder both of our not-always-glorious history and of the fact that things can change when brave people speak out.

3 comments:

  1. These things are fascinating - there's a similar one outside Dunham Massey, but perhaps not in such good condition as this - which you've photographed it really well. As you say, it's a reminder of the parts of our past that we shouldn't be at all proud of, but which nevertheless helped shape the world we live in. Slavery is probably as old as man. The really disgusting thing is that inhumanity, and even slavery, still exists.

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  2. It would make me uncomfortable, especially if I were visiting with a Black friend. Here in the American South there used to be a proliferation of little black figures with outstretched hands holding a ring to tether a horse to -- long after horses were no longer a common means of transport. They're still around -- some painted white, some not. But embarrassing. Google LAWN JOCKEY IMAGE and you'll see what I mean.

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