Address Colonial was a proposal submitted from Alison Little for the Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool to the Liverpool Bid Company.
Address: Colonialism mural to be located within the sea fearing location of the Baltic Triangle. Within the artwork we look to address Britains Colonial past and to hold ourselves culpable for the violations of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. We highlight the real professions in which two of the streets are named after: Slave Traders.
Liverpool Slave Trade
Liverpool lay at the heart of Britains slave trade between West Africa and the Americas. Largely due to the location, the city took over the Capital: London and the Southern port of Bristol. The North West location allowed ships to sail North around Northern Ireland and avoid the frequent sea battles between Britain and the Continent. The Port of Liverpool endorsed the ships to be conveniently stocked with goods to be traded in West Africa: Textiles from Lancashire, ceramics, brass and copper from Staffordshire and Cheshire. Other advantages were the proximity to the Isle of Man, a prominent tax haven of the day. Vessels would set sail, brimming with cargo, then trade for the human commodity of the enslaved African. Sail for the Americas was the next tangent of the triangular route. The helpless captives were then reciprocated to plantation owners for goods such as tobacco, sugar and cotton. Derminetta sugar was particularily prosperous within the Carribean, a foundation crop of the slave trade. It is estimated that around 40% of the Global trans-Atlantic slave trade passed through Liverpool during the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
Many of the enslaved did not survive the voyage to the Americas, death onboard was commonplace. Over the two centuries in which slave trade was at its peek over 1 Million Africans are said to have been drowned in the Atlantic. Life for slaves was brutal, life expectancies of thsoe being traded to the plantation owners were often as low as 7 years.
Sexual violence towards enslaved women was rife, mixed race heritage children were previlent. The children of the bonded also became the property of the owner and often separated from their parents. Rape of women by there masters was trite, particularly on the plantations. The process began on the auction slab, the slave stripped naked and oiled for all to view. Poked, then prodded, the errotic nature of this process was unavoidable with African women. During the nineteenth century, white women were idealised as pure, almost to the extent of being austere. In harsh contrast, black women were considered to be hypersexual. Slave Masters viewed their women as their property, although most were taken by force there were also the concubines. Although willing participants in sexual activity with their masters, they were not ‘Free’ to make that choice in the way women who are unrestricted.
Slave law was brutal, extended whipping were matter-of-coarse, pregancy was no barrier, slave masters digging holes to accoumodate the womens bump to allow thrashing without harming the baby. Those who tried to escape were shackled. The process of heat branding on the face was a frequent punishment for those who had tried to abscond. Many rebellions took place in the name of freedom. The ring leaders were often executed and their corpses hung up for all to view.
Slave ownership was widespread within Britain and a large cluster encircled Liverpool. Most commonly investments had been made to own slaves based within the colonies. After a massive campaign led by William Wilberforce slave ownership was abolished in 1832. Many slave owners were of the upper middle class and aristocratic class. They were greatly represented within parliament, at the time of abolition there were 32 slave owners serving as peirs within the House of Lords. This led to one of the most significant compensation payouts within the history of the British Government excluding any mounting payouts relating to the ongoing pandemic. However, the reparations did not go to the enslaved as compensation for the hardship they had endured, funds when to the slave owners for the financial loss they had incurred.
The Baltic Triangle
The Baltic Triangle itself deplays many links to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Its location adjacent to the Old Dock when many of the ships moored is evident. Jamaica Street, a main artery running through the area, alined with warehouses built to store the goods to be traded Globally.
Address: Colonialism looks to highlight two major streets within the vicinity: Blundell and New Bird Street. Both streets were named after prominent Liverpool Merchants, both were named after serving Liverpool Mayors, both were named after key members of the Africa Company of Merchants and both were named after Slave Traders.
Bryan Blundell (1675-1756) was prolific with Liverpool Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Setting sail as a cabin boy at the age of twelve he became skilled in seafaring, spearheading the potential for vessels to be built more economically within Virginia. Captaining the Mulberry which transported indentured workers to Virginia. More proliffically, the sole owner of the Tarleton which shipped over 200 slaves from the Gold Coast to Barbados. His sons and descendants benefited from his ill gotten wealth throughout the 18th Century. Standing as the Mayor of Liverpool twice and was jointly responsible for establishing the Bluecoat school. After the BLM protests of 2020 the Bluecoat school, now based in Wavertree received a petition curated by former pupils from the name Blundell to be removed from the institution. The Bistro and one of the house names were replaced, however a portrait and memorial stone for Blundell remain as educational tools. In our chronicles he is often described as being a philanthropist or a tobacco Merchant, the blackness of slave trading mislaid.
Equally, Alderman Joseph Bird was a slave trader and former Mayor. The original Bird Street was located between James Street and Redcross Street adjacent to the Strand. After demolition the ‘So called’ honour was given to New Bird Street.
The mural is to be sited within the Baltic Triangle. The intension is to create the two street names to appear to have been branded, as were the slaves who endeaved to abscond. The backing is to be a straightforward black masonry paint, encompassed around a fluorescent white acrylic paint over the negative space of the road sign representations. The reflective qualities of the white paint will allow the mural to be visible after nightfall.
The maral surface to be subdegated by neon signage crossing through ‘Blundell’ and ‘Bird’ to display ‘ Slave Tradesr’. Red neon to be selected, utilising a hand written style typeface to create the illusion of a school teacher correcting an error in red biro.
The main painting of the mural to be conducted by the artist: Alison Little, scaffold to be hired from a Bootle based company. Neon signage to be manufactured and fired by a preferably Liverpool based firm.
Masonry paint to look at being Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) free as this is problematic for those suffering from asthma and prone to allergies. Lakeland is VOC free and produced in nearby Lancashire would be an obvious selection. ECO Pro Silicate would be another option as this is a mineral based paint. Main objectives would be to only buy as much as required to avoid waste. Bushes to be wiped free of paint before cleaning. Any leftover paint to have either dry soil, sand or sawdust added, then to be disposed of at the nearest recycle centre, potentially Old Swan with a dedicated paint disposal facility.
Acrylic artists paints can be harmful to the environment as they release toxins as they dry. Rinsing brushes in sinks leads to microplastics entering the ecosystem, which are potentially cancer causing. Additional paint can be plastic wrapped and stored in an available fridge to reduce wastage. Again brushes to be wiped free from paint before washing avoiding any sinks. To look into the potential of Natural earth paints, however Winsor and Newton are a viable option as they look at reusing water in their manufacturing processes.
Neon was once considered to be harmful to the environment, however all modern manufacturers use LED lights which are extremely energy efficient. Potential to look at ‘Liverpool Neon’ as a local firm to manufacture and fit the signage.
Address: Colonialism mural does not necessarily demand the streets of Blundell and New Bird to be renamed, but it corrects any misconceptions. We brand them righteously as slave traders and not as philantropists or tobacco merchants. We correct the history books and we acknowledge the wrongs of colonialism.
This is an extremely relevant issue, The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests which took place Globally in 2020 are still current news. The toppling of the statue of the slave trader Conolston in Bristol and the resent acquittal of the Conalston four was an early hearing of 2022.
Modern day slavery, is still a contemporary issue within Britain and Globally. It is estimated that their are 40 million people trapped in modern slavery Globally, 4 times the numbers of those enslaved on the Trans-Atlantic route. Many of these are women and children, debt bonded or enforced early marriage modern day issues. People trafficking is widespread, the loss of 22 Asylum seekers within the channel in October a recent reminder. However in today’s society, people traffickers are not commemorated with streets being named after them, they are sought to be prosecuted. The four traffickers responsible for the death of 39 Vietnamese migrants through suffocation were given lengthy custodial sentences not immortalised with a statue in the way of Conalson in Bristol.
Now, within Liverpool the time is right to acknowledge the atrocities of the Empire. In the same was as Germany has built memorials to the victims of the Holocaust, we need public realm art which will commemorate the victims of the Colonial era. Akin to the Titanic memorial in Belfast commemorates the 1,500 lost at sea, we need to commemorate the 1 million enslaved Africans who drowned crossing the Atlantic.
Address Colonialism: the time is now and the place is Liverpool.
Although Liverpool Bid Company where positive towards the proposal she was unsuccessful on this occasion, however she will be applying for similar commissions in the future.