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Thu, 01 Aug



Artist Research Talk: Online

Online Artist talk with Tracey Thorne who will be sharing her recent work that is responding to archives on the sale of Boulton and Watt steam engines to sugar plantations in Jamaica

Artist Research Talk: Online
Artist Research Talk: Online

Time & Location

01 Aug 2024, 18:00 – 20:00


About the event

Free Online artist talk with Tracey Thorne who will be sharing her recent work that will be shown in the exhibition Intended for Jamaica at the Library of Birmingham which opens on the 10 May 2024. 

Intended for Jamaica is an artist-led project responding to archives in the Boulton and Watt Collection at the Library of Birmingham. The new work focuses on an unseen part of the archive in the collection that sheds light on the sale of Boulton and Watt Co. steam engines from Soho Foundry near Birmingham to sugar plantations in Jamaica during the nineteenth century. This story represents a missing chapter in the narrative of pioneering industrial heroes Boulton, Watt, and Murdoch, one that is interwoven with the threads of transatlantic slavery, indentured (bonded) labour, and the enduring legacies of colonialism.

The project seeks to explore the collection through artist research that has also informed fieldwork in Jamaica to create new artworks in direct response to the archival records detailing Boulton and Watt's trade with sugar plantations in Jamaica in the nineteenth century.

Online Talk

Tracey will present insights into her artist-led research and an opportunity for those who are unable to attend the exhibition to see some of the work virtually. The talks represent a virtual meet-the-artist talk with opportunities for Q&A. The talk is based on a very personal and reflective connection to the work and field trips in Jamaica. 

The artist will talk about how the work came to be made, and her field trip to sites in Jamaica, these include former plantation estates: Worthy Park Sugar Plantation, Green Park Sugar Plantation, Golden Grove Sugar Factory (Duckenfield Farm), Midgham Sugar Plantation, Moneymusk Sugar Plantation, Drax Hall and other places found on the visits. Tracey has spent several years living on and off the island since 2017. 

Tracey will also talk about her cyanotypes (blueprints)  practice and its use in the exhibition as a creative and reflective response to archival materials and field trips in Jamaica. Lastly, the talk will end by thinking about how the work can be developed further and opportunities for further research in other countries in the Caribbean where Boulton & Watt engines were sent.  

The exhibition will show for the first time original archive material from the Boulton & Watt Collection held at the Library of Birmingham relating to the sale of steam engines to Jamaica. The artists will exhibit new photographic works including cyanotypes made in response to the archives and field trips in Jamaica. Other archival items from the artist's own Jamaica collection and other works connected to the story will also be on show.

For details of the exhibition's full programme and access  - click here.

Event Details:

The talk will be on Zoom and a link will be sent before the Online meeting. 

This event is managed by the artist directly not the Library of Birmingham. For further details contact the artist and get in touch in advance for any access or dietary requirements.

The artist-led research and exhibition is based on the work of Birmingham-based photographer and photographic artist Tracey Thorne. The project was supported by Arts Council England and the exhibition is presented in partnership with the Library of Birmingham.


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