”Sea salty ‘cause it cry with us…” (Jaco, WAV Files, 2018)______________________________________________________________________________The memory of the past tells us what we owe... Read More
”Sea salty ‘cause it cry with us…” (Jaco, WAV Files, 2018) ______________________________________________________________________________
The memory of the past tells us what we owe to our future. This is an excavation of ancestry and wounds laid bare, juxtaposed with knowing and confronting the future. At some point the past must be acknowledged; even if the present is shaped by unspeakable tragedy, it is the wells from which future generations drink. We cannot move forward without resolve.
It was decided after rescuing the shipwrecked Africans from the Trouvadore that they would be integrated into the local Turks and Caicos community (Grand Turk); however they needed to recover the costs associated with the rescue. They also needed the support of the salt proprietors, so a compromise was reached. Of the 192 Africans, 168 were distributed amongst salt pond owners on Salt Cay and Grand Turk on a one-year contract. The 89 men, 26 women, 39 boys, 11 girls and 3 infants were given clothing, food, accommodation and medical care in return for their labour. The established church was to teach them to speak English and Christian practices, including being christened and attending services.
In the Turks Islands, the only work was salt production. Working conditions had improved since emancipation* but it was still a hard, unrewarding job and for this reason the salt proprietors were eager to take in the liberated Africans as cheap labour. (Turks and Caicos Museum, 2019)
It is believed that these first generation Africans were the settlers in Bambarra, Middle Caicos also the only settlement with an African name.
*Only those below the age of six were freed as a result of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. Enslaved people older than six years of age were re-designated as "apprentices" and required to work, 40 hours per week without pay, as part of compensation payment to their former “owners”. The British Government also paid the slave-owners ₤12 14s 4d for each slave. (Public Record Office, NDO 4/11.) Enslaved people in the British Caribbean finally gained their freedom at midnight on 31 July 1838.
The Trouvadore was a brigantine sailing under Spanish papers to Santiago, Cuba that ship wrecked on the Caicos Bank; Turks & Caicos in 1841. This work serves as a part of a greater narrative of the illegal slave ship the Trouvadour on it's final journey and the last slaves to arrive in the Turks and Caicos islands. To this day the Turks and Caicos Islands remain a colony of the United Kingdom, the collection is titled: "Tears of the Trouvadore"
The compostion of the piece links the relationship of the possible royality of the captured slave, the connection to the British Kingdom and labours via the symbolism of tears; composed of salt and water. The white is symbolistic of the slave being drowned in his own tears also which is the very salt that is part of the plantation work and the sea which transported him. The title of the piece points towards the salt raker; as the "workers" were known and the process of raking salt within the salt ponds of the Turks and Caicos.
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