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Other Voices in Garden History - Learning from the Blackamoor

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The third in a 10-part lecture series, celebrating the voices beginning to be heard, online once a week on Mondays at 6 pm.

About this Event

This series of illustrated lectures will explore the impact and legacy of empire, colonialism and enslavement on western garden and landscape history. Our aim is to bring back some of the voices usually absent from this history, to identify and fill gaps in our collective knowledge, and to explore new ways of engaging with the whole history of gardens, landscapes and horticulture.

The diverse range of topics and speakers will offer a new range of perspectives on the history of gardens and landscapes and suggest more inclusive ways of presenting and interpreting their stories. The series does not aim to point fingers or to encourage hand-wringing but is more a celebration of voices starting to be heard.

This talk is the third in our series aiming to hear voices previously absent from our garden history:

1: Guns and Roses: Humphry Repton at Warley Park

2: Historic Landscapes for All: Learning to Share

3: Learning from The Blackamoor

4: The Work of Ingrid Pollard

5: Collecting with Lao Chao [Zhao Chengzhang]

6: Telling tales about trees: the voices and stories that have helped build Africa's Great Green Wall

7: Working towards inclusive Botanic Gardens

8: Hearing the Voices from a Human Zoo

9: Contested Landscapes: Race and the English Rural Countryside Space

10: Other Voices in Garden History: Discussion Panel

This ticket is for this individual session and costs £5, and you may purchase tickets for other individual sessions via the links above, or you may purchase a ticket for the entire course of 10 sessions at a cost of £40 (students £15) via the link here.

Attendees will be sent a Zoom link 2 days prior to the start of the talk, and a link to the recorded session (available for 1 week) will be sent shortly afterwards.

Week 3. 26 April: ‘Learning from The Blackamoor’ by Dr Patrick Eyres

This lecture will consider examples of the visible and invisible ways in which the Atlantic slave economy permeated the garden culture of Georgian Britain. The visible will be discussed through the lead statue known as The Blackamoor, a.k.a. The Kneeling Slave. When William III commissioned this statue for the privy garden at Hampton Court palace in 1701, he not only initiated a new genre of British garden sculpture, but also visualised his intention to acquire the Asiento for Britain. The Asiento was the monopoly contract to transport enslaved Africans to the Spanish transatlantic empire. Stimulated by royal patronage, The Blackamoor, a.k.a. The Kneeling Slave, became the most popular of all the lead statues made for Georgian gardens. It is startling to appreciate that this statue was perceived as a representation of the commercial bounty of the Asiento in particular, and the Atlantic slave economy in general. Unlike the visualising Blackamoor, the Atlantic income invested in landscape gardening was invisible, as exemplified by Harewood in Yorkshire. Here, both ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton were consulted and the improved landscape was celebrated in paintings by J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Girtin. However, by opening the family’s commercial archive to scholars, the present Earls of Harewood have revealed the ways in which income from the Atlantic slave economy was invested in the country house building and landscape gardening that enabled the elevation of a gentry merchant into the aristocracy.

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Dr Patrick Eyres is editor of the unique, artist-illustrated New Arcadian Journal, which engages with the cultural politics of designed landscapes (53 editions since 1981: www.newarcadianpress.co.uk). He has also published in numerous other books and journals, most recently in Penny Florence (ed.), Thinking The Sculpture Garden (2020). For many years he served on the boards of the Little Sparta Trust, Garden History Society, Leeds Art Fund, and Wentworth Castle Heritage Trust. On behalf of The Gardens Trust, he set up and chaired for the first ten years the annual New Research Symposium in Garden History.

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