Tag Archives sugar

‘DARKWATERS’, TATE LIVERPOOL, 2023

By Posted on 1 Comment2min read384 views

‘High in the tower, where I sit above the loud complaining of the human sea, I know many souls that toss and whirl and pass, but none there are that intrigue me more than the Souls of White Folk.’

‘The Souls Of White Folk’, DARKWATER, W.E.B.Dubois, 1920

 

Much of the stone and brick of this city – built

along the river’s shore and the low hills

rising from it – was made from sugarcane

and cotton, cut from the backs of African

slaves, like much of the fortunes of England.

 

The Victorian dockside buildings have been

reengineered into apartments; gift shops;

eateries; a museum dedicated

to international slavery;

and one of four Tate art galleries,

named for Henry Tate, sugar magnate,

who endowed the first one in London,

then capital of a world wide empire

powered by subjugation and thievery.

 

Each of the upper floors of the gallery

has kept the original, large, multi-paned

windows of the dockside warehouse, masked

as needed for exhibitions. The one

I am standing at faces west, down river,

towards Ireland, the Atlantic, the New World.

I can see the mouth of the estuary,

the beginnings of Liverpool Bay –

and imagine the molasses factory,

not far downstream, the Luftwaffe turned

to rubble, buckled girders and treacle.

 

On the walls and display boards behind me

are works from the Tate’s Turner collection:

sketches and water colours and oils of things

maritime – of turbulent seas lit

by a bright almost harsh opalescence.

Two of Lamin Fontana’s audio

installations are playing on a loop –

music and voices; the sounds of servitude,

pain and longing, immersed in the oceans.

 

Three thousand miles or more west south west

in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts

is Turner’s THE SLAVE SHIP, originally

entitled SLAVERS THROWING OVERBOARD

THE DEAD AND DYING—TYPHOON COMING ON.

The background is the storm approaching

against a romantic sunset of

violent orange; the middle ground

a top-sail schooner, sails furled, buffeted

by the unquiet seas; foregrounded are white birds

in flight, black manacled limbs sinking, black hands

briefly above the tumultuous waves.

 

 

‘AI’ & ‘REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST’: POEMS & GRAPHICS

By Posted on 8 Comments

The poems were inspired by conversations with the artist, Evie Chapman. The ...

‘A SHROPSHIRE LAD’…

By Posted on 3 Comments

…is the first book of poetry I owned – a breast pocket ...

THE FASHION OF THE EARTH

By Posted on 0 Comments

In a letter published in The Times in May 1936 – the ...