Lessons from Lancaster's slavery past

Facing The Past is a collaborative project between Lancaster Priory Church, the Judges Lodgings museum, Lancaster Black History and arts, heritage and community organisations.

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 31st December 2021, 12:46 pm
Moorside Primary School pupils with some of their Facing The Past artwork. Picture by Darren Andrews.
Moorside Primary School pupils with some of their Facing The Past artwork. Picture by Darren Andrews.

The youngest pupils to take part in Lancaster’s Facing The Past project have enjoyed a full day working with three professional artists.

Year 4 pupils at Moorside School learnt more about Lancaster’s involvement in the slave trade through art sessions run by Nayna Lad, Venessa Scott and Katie Eggleston-Wirtz.

Facing The Past is a new project funded by Arts Council England, which aims to reflect, reveal and redress omissions in the way Lancaster has so far commemorated its role in the transatlantic slave trade.

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Pupils from Moorside Primary School with an example of the art they created as part of the Facing The Past project. Picture by Darren Andrews.

It is a collaborative project between Lancaster Priory Church, the Judges Lodgings museum, Lancaster Black History and arts, heritage and community organisations including More Music.

The sessions at Moorside took place at the end of Phase 1 of the project which has included workshops in three other schools and community workshops over the past two months.

Moorside teachers had wanted to adapt their current history curriculum, which included studying the Pendle witches, to incorporate the slave trade as an example of another group of people who suffered oppression in the past.During the Facing The Past sessions, children created art with renowned public artist Venessa Scott who has appeared on CBBC’s Colours; artist and poet, Katie Eggleston-Wirtz; and Nayna Lad, an art and design teacher.

Geraldine Onek, a Moorside teacher and founder of Lancaster Black History, said: “I don’t think any of us could envisage how successful this project would be and that within a few short months we would have worked with four schools delivering history, art workshops as well as including school visits to the local museum. Many schools have contacted us since and are keen to be involved and we hope to make this available to all local schools in the near future.”

Young people visited the Judges Lodgings during the Facing The Past project.

As part of the project, a Slavery Learning Resource is being created for schools so that the subject can be taught in future lessons.

Now all the workshops have ended, Lancaster Priory Commissioning Group, which is steering Facing The Past, is discussing how to take the project forward in 2022.Facing The Past is a collaborative project between Lancaster Priory Church, the Judges Lodgings museum, Lancaster Black History and arts, heritage and community organisations including More Music. Facing The Past, Phase 1 will focus on young people, young musicians and community members in Morecambe and a cross-section of the Lancaster community including the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community which is 4.4% of the local population.

Lancaster Priory Commissioning Group is steering Facing The Past.

It is an active member of Lancaster Arts Partnership and has hosted many Light Up Lancaster events as well as its own cultural programme including the annual Festival of Song.

Reflecting on its past, Lancaster Priory will be a focal point of the Facing the Past project. Picture by Darren Andrews.

The Judges Lodgings museum, run by Lancashire County Council, commissioned Lubaina Himid’s Swallow Hard in 2007 to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

She went on to win the Turner Prize and Swallow Hard was part of the Turner Prize show. The museum has also hosted many cultural events and participated in Light Up Lancaster.

Lancaster Black History is a grassroots community group fighting racism through education. Its current research project with local people traces the links that prominent local families had with the triangular transatlantic slave trade.