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Sat, 03 Aug


Library of Birmingham

Sugar Maps: Archive Session

This free session explores the original 1804 map of Jamaica featured in the exhibition Intended for Jamaica in an archive session and includes a visit to the exhibition with the artist.

Sugar Maps: Archive Session
Sugar Maps: Archive Session

Time & Location

03 Aug 2024, 11:30 – 12:30

Library of Birmingham, The Wolfson Centre, 4th Floor, Centenary Sq, Birmingham B1 2ND, UK

About the event

This free session will take place in the Library archives followed by a visit to the exhibition Intended for Jamaica with the artist. 

James Roberston's 1804 map of Jamaica provided important information about the distribution of sugar plantations across the Island and the sources of power that ran the sugar mills. An original copy of the large map is held in the Boulton and Watt Collection, at the Library. This map has never been exhibited before and is mainly unseen, many people don't even know of its existence. The original map was too large to display in the exhibition Intended for Jamaica and a reproduction of it was made for display, this session provides access to look at the original map with the artist.

The artist will talk about how she used the map in her research to find former sugar plantation sites when she was in Jamaica. Towards the end of the session, the group will go down to the Gallery on the 3rd Floor to see the exhibition together and reflect on other maps also on display.   These include a Spanish map of Jamaica and a later one used by Tate & Lyle LTD. 

About the Exhibition

Intended for Jamaica is an artist-led project responding to archives held 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 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.

See the exhibition programme for details and access information  - click here

Archive Event Details:

Starts at 11.30 am Wolfson Centre, 4th Floor of the Library of Birmingham. 

Note no drinks may be taken into the archive.

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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