South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

RAMM to explore Devon's links with slave trade

Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) has commissioned Joy Gregory to create an artwork for an exhibition opening later this year on the transatlantic slave trade.

The exhibition is part of a wider 'Untold Stories' programme in 2020 that will see RAMM use its collections to ask difficult questions and explore hidden stories. The programme will feature exhibitions, events, artist commissions and other activities that are also designed to give a voice to neglected communities.

The new artwork to be created by Gregory will be informed by the artist's experience of working with the curators at RAMM and the museum’s collections, the advisory panel to this exhibition and the local community. The artist's practice focuses on social and political issues, with particular reference to history and cultural differences in contemporary society.

"“I am thrilled and delighted at this tremendous opportunity to develop and produce a response to the less-familiar stories associated with RAMM’s collection," Gregory said. “My approach as an artist is to spend time observing reflecting and thinking on connections and elements which will resonate with those most likely to encounter the finished work. I have started the commission by spending time in Exeter exploring the town, meeting people as well as reflecting on the exhibitions, displays, collections and museum visitors."

Other activities in the Untold Stories programme include an exhibition about the men, women and children who made Devon lace, a project focused on RAMM’s LGBTQ+ connections, and a photography show capturing the stories of 100 women who were pioneers in their particular fields.

The exhibition on the transatlantic slave trade, which will open in October 2020, will explore how the impact of the transatlantic slave trade can still be seen in Devon and Exeter today. Alongside the exhibition, RAMM will develop a piece of work capturing people’s responses to Portrait of an African, an artwork held in its collections since 1943. It was painted in around 1758 and is believed to be of British composer, actor, and writer Ignatius Sancho.