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5 June 2024: A Hymn to the Banished – Artist Annalee Davis in conversation with Dr Jillian Sutherland and Dr Ariadne Collins

    Learning Loft, Wardlaw Museum, University of St Andrews, 3.45-5.30pm BST (GMT+1)/10.45am-12.30pm AST.

    Free but please book tickets via Eventbrite.

    Please join us for this in conversation event with the artist Annalee DavisDr Jillian Sutherland, and Dr Ariadne Collins, chaired by Dr Catherine Spencer. Taking as its starting point Davis’s multi-part print edition A Hymn to the Banished (2022), which addresses connections between Scotland and Barbados, the conversation will explore histories of diaspora and their display, political ecology, and the links between colonialism and climate crisis.

    A Hymn to the Banished, a copy of which was acquired by St Andrews University Museums last year, was commissioned as part of the National Trust for Scotland’s ongoing mission to face the legacies of slavery and empire in its properties. Davis’ box set of print works takes this landscape as a historic point of departure, drawing a thread from 1800 when Francis Humberston MacKenzie, landowner of Lochalsh and Kintail in northwest Scotland, became Governor of Barbados. Known as Britain’s first sugar isle, its economic prosperity was built upon the labour of enslaved Africans, white indentured servants, both men and women, and the sugar trade.

    A Hymn to the Banished insinuates an interlacing of imperial linkages between Barbados and Scotland, inferring centuries of social disruption caused by the plantation system and the colonial project. With the forced transplantation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans and numerous Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English indentured labourers, systems of knowledge and rituals crossed the world’s ocean currents, building new cultures in the foreign lands of the West Indies. British imperialism imposed banishment and generated suffering. Yet, deep knowledge and a desire to heal profound traumas elicited practices that relied on ancient traditions connected to the land and the remembering of sacred rites.

    In conjunction with the Transnational Island Museologies conference (5–7 June 2024), A Hymn to the Banished will be on display in the Research Studio at the Wardlaw Museum (next door to the Learning Loft), University of St Andrews, from June–September 2024. You do not need to be registered for the Transnational Island Museologies conference to attend this event.

    This event is supported by the St Andrews Centre for Contemporary ArtCentre for Art and PoliticsCentre for Amerindian, Latin American Studies and Caribbean Studies, and Scotland’s Future Series.

    Annalee Davis is a Barbadian visual artist and writer whose practice combines history and biography in discussions of ‘post-plantation economies’ with cultural activism in the arts sector. Davis’ works explore Barbados’ transformation from a once biodiverse landscape to sugar plantations and more recently a tourism-dependent island, arguably sectors of enclosure and exclusion. She understands the plantation as an economic model irrevocably impacting the contemporary environment whose historical legacy has been traumatically inscribed upon the landscape and its people. Working in her studio located on an operational dairy farm–once a 17th-century plantation– Davis exposes the poly-vocal narratives buried beneath the land. Drawing, walking, making (bush) teas, and growing living apothecaries, her practice suggests future strategies for repair and thriving while investigating the role of botanicals and living plots as ancestral sites of refusal, counterknowledge, and healing. A Caribbean activist nurturing more equitable platforms for emerging artists, her work as the Founding Director of Fresh Milk, and co-founder of Caribbean Linked, Tilting Axis, and Sour Grass–promotes pan-Caribbean community engagement by working with artists across the multi-lingual archipelago. Collectively, they reinforce the healthy growth of contemporary visual arts in the region, by working with artists who often feel marginalised from mainstream society. IG: @annalee.devere

    Dr Jillian Sutherland is an independent museology researcher, lecturer and curator. Her PhD from Bath Spa University (2022) explored postcolonial ethics in small museum curating through practitioner interviews. Between 2022-24 she lectured in Museum and Heritage Studies and Art History at the University of St Andrews. Jill’s research is concerned with diaspora and decoloniality in permanent museum displays and critical curatorial practices in the UK. She consults on decolonial approaches to interpretation and programming, most recently for the British Art Network and the Entangled Pasts exhibition at the Royal Academy. As Artisa Curatorial Fellow at the Holburne Museum in Bath in 2019-21, Jill’s permanent redisplay of the Plantation Day Book, from Barbados, 1722, marked a significant moment in the South West of England’s engagement with colonial history and museum collections displays. Her work has featured in several films and will appear in the book Breaking the Dead Silence: Engaging with the Legacies of Empire and Slave-Ownership in Bath and Bristol’s Memoryscapes due in 2024 from Liverpool UP.

    Dr Ariadne Collins is a Lecturer in the School of International Relations. Her work lies at the intersection of climate change governance, environmental policy and international development. More specifically, she analyses the interplay between market-based conservation and post-colonial development. Her work features an emphasis on processes of racialization and histories of colonialism, and their challenge to the successful enactment of forest governance policies in the Global South. Ariadne’s current collaborative research (with Matt Barlow and Drs Lydia Cole and Theo Reeves-Evison) is titled Towards a Political Ecology of Volume. It investigates the sustainability and equity of governance structures and use practices of the Earth’s commons. It recognizes that the interdisciplinary subfield of political ecology is dedicated towards studying how political economic factors shape human-nature relationships, thereby demonstrating that what is commonly thought of as non-human nature is always co-constituted with social systems. Burgeoning research on volume, however, calls into question both longstanding environmental governance practices and the subfield of political ecology that studies them on account of political ecology’s overwhelming dependence on a view of the Earth as two-dimensional, through a European, land-centred geographical imagination. Hence, Ariadne’s current collaborative research project aims to bring volume to political ecology, and political ecology to volumetric practices, at a critical time of global environmental change.

    Image credit: Annalee Davis, Detail from A Book of Healing Plants, 2022. Hardbound book with soft ground etching, screenprint and digital print on Awagami Kozo 70g paper. Plants L-R: Wonder of the World, Blood Root, Nettle, West India Bay Leaf, Cerasee. Annalee Davis, 2022. Photo by Iain Turnbull.

    This activity is part of a wider research project that was selected by the European Research Council (ERC) and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) with project reference: EP/X023036/1. It is coordinated by the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews in collaboration with the International Council of Museums (ICOM)’s International Committee of Museology (ICOFOM). For more information, please see the Transnational Island Museologies website.

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