Sugar, but no spice or things nice

1st February 2008 at 00:00
Most of the events held to mark the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Act (1807) have been and gone, but the McLean Museum and Art Gallery in Greenock has chosen to extend its exhibition, Sugar, Ships Slavery, until the end of February to give more schools in the area a chance to find out about the trade that allowed Inverclyde to flourish so spectacularly.

As the exhibition points out: "Inverclyde's success rested on colonial tropical produce - and that depended on slavery. Slaves and the slave trade were, for most merchants, a simple fact of business life; a way to make a profit; a means to an end."

Among the highlights are extracts from the 18th-century journal of slave trader John Newton, including his discovery, on the way to Antigua, of "a conspiracy among the men slaves to rise upon us. Their plot was exceedingly well laid. Nearly 20 of them broke their irons with a large marlin spike ... and we found knives, stones and a chisel."

Also marking the 200th anniversary is "A' Adam's Bairns", a new learning resource now being sent out to all schools in Scotland.

The pack explores "equality and diversity in Scotland past and present" for P6-S2, and includes a CD of songs based on the music collections at the National Library of Scotland.

Altogether, 18 traditional Scottish songs, dealing with slavery in a wide variety of contexts, have been arranged and recorded by 12 of Scotland's top folk artists as part of a joint project by the National Literacy Strategy and the Scotdec centre to support of global citizenship.

McLean Museum and Art Gallery. T 01475 715624. For information on A' Adam's Bairns E susan@scotdec.org.uk.

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