THEIR SPIRITS Installation to Go on View at International Slavery Museum, Jan 31

Related: International Slavery Museum

Image © Donnette Zacca

A canoe that represents strength over adversity will go on show at the International Slavery Museum.

Their Spirits (31 January to 7 September 2014) is a powerful installation by acclaimed Jamaican artist Laura Facey.

The traditional Jamaican canoe is almost five meters long and contains 1,357 resin figures that represent enslaved Africans who were transported to the country. The canoe may conjure images of Antony Gormley's clay figures or the Chinese Terracotta Army.

Visitors will see Their Spirits as a comment on the trade of enslaved Africans. But it also signifies strength and unity...the canoe had their bodies for a little while but their spirits had already gone before them...

Laura Facey said: "In one moment the viewer of Their Spirits can experience the history and memory of slavery. The canoe sits on a sea of sugar cane - a commodity at the centre of the trade in enslaved Africans. The men and women in the symbolic canoe are enslaved yet they stand with dignity - upright and facing each other. 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.

"It's not about ropes, chains or torture but the installation communicates transcendence, reverence, strength and unity."

Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be able to bring this stunning and iconic work to Liverpool. 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.

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

Laura Facey was born in Jamaica. She is best known for her 2003 work the Redemption Song - a monument to the emancipation which stands at the ceremonial entrance to the Emancipation Park in Kingston.

Laura Facey added: "I'm excited to bring Their Spirits to Liverpool. 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."

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by Barry Kostrinsky