The Making of a Slave Ship
When considering how to spend his time at The Rodd Vanley Burke researched the origins of his own given surname - which belonged to the plantation owner of his predecessors; the history of Captain Morgan, the transportation of slaves and the prevalence of lynching and torture against black Americans in the last century.
Within a couple of days of his residency, having explored the farmland, Vanley Burke identified a space between a small avenue of trees close to the farmyard with a floor space similar to the dimensions of the top deck of a slaving ship. Vanley has worked with the idea of appropriating this specific space previously in the Gambia when he worked with the community on the beach using shells to outline the bodies of the 250 individuals who would have been incarcerated on deck.
Members of Ikon Youth Programme and the Gallery’s Director Jonathan Watkins joined other participants in a master class with Vanley to create and inhabit the deck space marked out by the artist earlier in the week. Straw was spread on the floor, images of lynching stuck to trees and fences, and clothing, which had been hung from branches, blew in the strong wind that had picked up during the day.
Vanley invited participants to lie in the straw in a format similar to the regimented lines of slaves. Against the noise of the wind and the movement of branches the experience was powerful and profound.