The World Reimagined
is a ground-breaking, national art education project to transform how we understand the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans and its impact on all of us. Participants include 7 cities, 100 Artists and over 250 schools.
Title: The Longitude of Culture
Templates of these symbols are available for schools. Send your requests using the Contact Form.
I was commissioned to interpret the theme 'A Complex Triangle', which refers to the triangular movement of material goods and enslaved labour between Europe, Africa and the Americas that enriched colonial empires. The ghost of that movement exists today echoing the same economic manipulation of resources. Throughout this continued movement of these resources from the southern to the northern hemisphere, cultures were dismantled and destroyed and their ritualised customs denied, demonised. Their most sacred artefacts that embodied the identity of a people removed as booty and through other unjust means.
The theme is narrated through colour, symbols and historical icons that comprise the content of the globe I created. Gold dominates the colour palette, signifying the precious planet we live on and the gold that initiated European expeditions to Africa and their thirst for riches and knowledge.
Within the traditional cultures of Africa new symbols and motifs have always been created to explain and document the changing historical narrative, so I have followed that tradition in my globe representation. Overlapping symbols, colours and shapes help to convey the complex timeline of the past directly linking us to the present day. Born out of the original Adinkra symbol, ‘Mpatapo’ depicts the knot with no beginning or end representing peace after conflict, emulated by that continued unbroken line of connection. From the recognisable slave ship, the gun, lion, plane, raised fist synonymous with the Black power movement and now with Black Lives Matter, all have become icons of remembrance and resistance against white supremacy.
As the iconic Black star associated with the Garvey movement, the lion with the Rastafarian movement and spiritual move away from Christian belief systems here in the UK from the 1980’s to the present day, the rise of self-education of our own history and re-institution of cultural practices thrived unrecognised outside the mainstream educational system.
As with the call for the return of those cultures’ most precious belongings, it is only right that African spiritual belief systems also be recognised and acknowledged as justified frameworks through which we see the world and its history. The flow of knowledge from those indigenous cultures along the lines of longitude into Western culture has added to the discussions of the future of our world.
IDEA BEHIND THE COLOURS
The four colours that make up the conceptual ideas of the globe have within them a visual historical relevance to and memory of this period of history - each colour representing a material that played a part in the downfall, enrichment and enslavement of the cultures that traded these goods associated with the theme, A Complex Triangle.
Pulling from different African traditions, the symbols incorporated in the globe reflect the fluctuation of change and are overlaid and integrated to convey the complexity of movement of time during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The dynamics of economics, culture, social unrest, each symbol bearing witness to this change and unique relationship and connection to the British Windrush generation and Black UK culture, was a result of the first major migration from the colonies of the Caribbean and Africa to the UK.
Description of Symbols:
Ships that carried the slaves to the Caribbean and Americas.
Guns made from iron that gave Europeans the advantage in war.
Planes marking the Second World War in which Black service men fought.
Lion the symbol of rebellion of the Rastafarian and spiritual uprising.
Fist a symbol of the 60’s civil rights activism but has also come to represent the Black Lives Matter movement.
Cups that signify the demand for sugar by enriched Europeans to satisfy their taste buds.
Black Star a symbol of aspiration and connection to the Marcus Garvey movement.