Fort James, Accra
African Redwood, 23 ct. double water gilded gold leaf on MDF, aluminium, wood, paint, glass, lacquer.
80 cm x 80 cm x 11 cm.
Fort James, Accra, was built in 1673 by the Royal African Company (RAC), an English merchant company set up in 1660 by the British Royal House of Stuart and City of London merchants, led by James, Duke of York, brother of King Charles II, to trade on the ‘Gold Coast’ in today’s Ghana.
Historian William Pettigrew has stated that the RAC “shipped more enslaved African men, women and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the entire period of the transatlantic slave trade”. Slaves were branded ‘DoY’ on their chest for the Duke of York, or ‘RAC’ for the company.
Between 1662 and 1731, the RAC transported 212,000 slaves, of whom 44,000 died on route, (3,000 per year). By then, they were also transporting slaves to the English colonies in North America. In the late C19 after cessation of the slave trade, Fort James was converted to a prison. Today it is semi-derelict. Although the central tower with the Governor’s residence is now reduced in height, the bastions, ramparts and slave holes (dungeons) all remain.
“Fort James, Accra” 2020 is one of series of artworks made following a period of research undertaken in Ghana between 2018 – 2021 at the invitation of Gallery 1957, Accra.
Exhibition opening “The Past is Never Dead…” Gallery 1957, Accra, 19 May 2021
Installation views “The Past is Never Dead…” Gallery 1957, Accra, 20 May – 12 July 2021
Harpers Bazaar Arabia March 2019
Apollo Magazine 3 December 2019
Wallpaper Magazine 18 May 2020