Act, Campaign, Petition, Reform, Lobby, Argue, 2015

Houses of Parliament Commission

I was commissioned by the Houses of Parliament, along with eight other contemporary visual artists to produce two new works as part of 2015, Parliament in the Making. I used specific material from the Parliamentary Archives to make incisive, graphic works for the year-long exhibition in Westminster Hall: ‘The Beginnings of that Freedome’. I wanted to illustrate something of the complex historical narratives that surround the two Acts I was invited to explore.

Act, Campaign, Petition, Reform, Lobby, Argue consists of six translucent, letter envelopes, which bear the original signatures of six 18th century men: Gustavas Vassa, Thomas Clarkson, Ignatius Sancho, Granville Sharp, William Wilberforce and William Pitt. I filled each envelope with a selected word, printed multiple times on parchment paper. The words: act, campaign, petition, reform, lobby and argue attest to the roles these men played in the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act as well as the processes inherent in activism and political endeavour. The six envelopes and their contents allude to aspects of the transatlantic slave trade and the act itself – the people enslaved; confinement and the body; the people lost on the Middle Passage; letter writing as a campaign tactic; and the signature as a personal mark of protest.

Gifted by the Houses of Parliament to the Parliamentary Archives, Westminster City Council, London.

2015, Parliament in the Making archive