“…their songs are songs of lamentation upon their departure which, while they sing, are always in tears, insomuch that one captain … threatened one of the women with a flogging, because the mournfulness of her song was too painful for his feelings.”

This quote is taken from William Wilberforce’s 1789 Abolition Speech. It brings to light an idea which I never knew existed – the idea in which even those closest to the slave trade (the active participants) were much distraught by the events that they took part in. While looking back on the atrocities of the past, it’s easy to forget that we are all human, susceptible to our own feelings, emotions and errors. My photosponse is an exploration into the other side of the slave trade, I call it: The Moment of Anxiety.

In this picture we see a ship captain sitting at his desk with one hand cradling his head and the other hand struggling to finish a letter. The chains here are quite symbolic and self-explanatory which is why I decided to place them to the far left as they are not the main focus of the drawing.  Instead, the main focus is the figure in the dead center, hunched over in a moment of sadness/stress from his duties as a transporter of human cargo. The pitch blackness of the setting does a lot to capture the atmosphere and mood, while the candle at the bottom left helps to offer what little narration this picture has (it’s possible that the captain extinguished the flame because he has simply given up writing the letter).  Without the candle flame the only source of light left comes from the lantern, a perfect symbol for hope – dim, but still present.

I think we all have a feeling of helplessness from time to time. We see wrongs, but have no power or authority to make it right. Some things we never notice may inadvertently affect others in a way we never intend. Perhaps we can’t all be revolutionaries, rebels or heroes, but by simply being aware of things (and not turning a blind eye) we can begin to bring about change.


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