Friday 16 September 2011 - Saturday 7 January 2012
Photographic impressions of the Atlantic slave trade
In the personal journey, photographer John Bradshaw has travelled extensively to capture authentic locations associated with the slave trade. The resulting black and white photographs portray this story.
Slavery has been a prominent feature of the human condition since the earliest times. Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome all relied heavily on an enslaved workforce to build their empires. The most organised system of slavery however, was that known as the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Slaves captured in Africa had been used to work huge sugar and coffee plantations in Brazil since the 16th and 17th centuries. European Maritime nations especially Britain, then began to exploit these commercial opportunities during the 17th and 18th centuries. Ships left European ports such as Bristol or Liverpool loaded with trade goods with which to purchase slaves from traders, mostly African themselves, who had marched them from the interior to collection points on estuaries along the coast of West Africa from Senegal to Angola.
When sufficient numbers of slaves had been collected they were crammed into unhealthy stinking vessels, where, chained to the decks, they were subjected to abuse, disease and intolerable heat during the voyage to the West Indies or America. Eventually they were set to work preparing land for huge plantations, growing the crops and constructing dwellings.