Monthly Archives: January 2013

Frederick Douglass in Britain: Online Teaching Resource

Frederick Douglass, c1847-52

Many thanks to postgraduate researcher Hannah-Rose Murray (MA Public History at Royal Holloway) for passing on this information about her research focused on Frederick Douglass’ time in Britain and the associated teaching resource that she has produced:

How many people in Britain have heard of Frederick Douglass? He is probably one of the most famous African Americans in the United States, but his sojourn in Britain has been largely forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born a slave in Maryland, he escaped and travelled to Britain between 1845-7, urging the British people to campaign against American slavery. Douglass created a sensation, and his experiences in this country deserve to be recognised. He was able to sharpen his powerful skills as an orator, and he established long-term friendships with British abolitionists, who supported him throughout his career as a social activist.

I first became aware of Douglass at University (2008). I read a speech by him, titled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” This was a merciless attack on America’s concept of ‘liberty’, and I’ve been hooked ever since! For a Masters project, I created several teaching resources focusing on Douglass’s trip to Britain, and created a website – https://sites.google.com/site/frederickdouglassinbritain/

While I was researching Douglass, it became clear there was something missing – an analysis of the impact Douglass had on Britain. We can test this by reading contemporary newspapers, as they offer opinions on American slavery in general and on Douglass himself. Through this, we can understand how and why Douglass was so successful in Britain, particularly on a grassroots level. There are some great debates within the newspapers about slavery, and how far Britain should interfere, so it’s a great study of relations between the UK and the United States too.

This period of history is fascinating, and some of the controversies Douglass became involved in show that the issue of slavery was not confined to the American shore. For all of these reasons, I’m keen to spread the word about Frederick Douglass and his important trip here, to a British and an American audience!

A blue plaque to Frederick Douglass is currently being organised, with the tribute ceremony on 20February at Whitehead’s Grove, South Kensington. Currently, more donations are needed, so if you would like to make a contribution or find out more about the plaque, follow this link – http://www.nubianjak.com/default.aspx

Derek Attridge on William Kentridge at the Bluecoat

Kentridge in Context: an evening with Derek Attridge.

Professor Attridge discusses Kentridge’s work in relation to

contemporary South African literature

on

Thursday 24 January 6pm

image001

(Image: William Kentridge, Eight Figures, 2010. Courtesy Artists Proof Studio, (c) the artist 2012.)

A Universal Archive – William Kentridge as Printmaker

Exhibition continues until Sunday 3 February, 2013.  Open 10am-6pm daily. Free.

One of South Africa’s greatest contemporary artists, William Kentridge is acclaimed worldwide for his films, drawings, theatre and opera productions.  He is also an innovative and prolific printmaker who studied etching at the Johannesburg Art Foundation.

Over the past 25 years Kentridge has produced more than 300 etchings, engravings, aquatints, silkscreens, linocuts and lithographs, experimenting with formats and combining techniques.  Often the social and political themes explored in his prints end up in a piece of theatre or animated film.  This exhibition includes over 100 prints in all media from 1988 to the present, with a focus on experimental and serial works, ranging in scale from intimate etchings to linocuts measuring 2.5 metres high.

Saturday 19 January 2pm

Exhibition tour

Alan Jones, an artist based at the Bluecoat, and our Aritistic Director, Bryan Biggs,discuss Kentridge’s work in the gallery.  Free.

Thursday 24 January 6pm

Kentridge in Context: an evening with Derek Attridge

Derek Attridge discusses Kentridge’s work in relation to contemporary South African literature.  Free, ticket required.

Sunday 27 January 2pm

Gallery Talk with Kate McCrickard

Leading Kentridge expert Kate McCrickard offers insights into his work. Free.

Saturday 2 February 2-5pm

Open printmaking studios

William Kentridge uses a wide range of printmaking techniques.  Visit our two print studios for demonstrations of these processes.  Free.