Sweet Waters: Soundings from the walks
Saturday 21 October from 13.00-16.00
Saltford Brass Mill
an installation in sound and images
Responses and resonances sense-ing legacies of slave-ownership in Bath and along the River Avon….visit the Mill discover sounds and images gathered from the Sweet Waters walks and related research along side the existing information and orientation
Working with field recordings, background research and other materials this begins a reporting phase from the Sweet Waters project. The Mill is a relic of an industry producing brass goods that were loaded on ships from Bristol and traded for enslaved people. The water wheel still turns and the installations will respond to the watery sonic environment, repatriating sounds of the manufacture of goods destined for the West Coast of Africa.
Sweet Waters is a wayfaring through interconnected cycles of Water and Trade exploring legacies and revealing resonances:
Water: from rain to river to sea to sky and back, power and transport, plantation irrigation and country park decoration. The river washed away the sweat of the brass workers, returning slave ships were scrubbed down into it, while the tears of those who lost loved ones to the slavers flowed to the sea in the rivers of West Africa. In the water: blood, vomit, excretia, the dissolved and digested flesh of those who resisted, sea-sick, home-sick, tears of grief, tears of despair, blood of punishment and cold sweat of survival. In the vast Atlantic Ocean there are generations of lives thrown overboard as damaged goods, food for fish and cowries. Heritage, memories, stories, languages.
Trade: the Triangular Trade: products made and transported on the River Avon shipped to West Africa and sold for enslaved people, those who survived the crossing were sold again to work in field and factory, the materials they produced and the wealth generated returned up the River Avon. Sugar. Tobacco. Timber. Wealth fuelling industrial development and embodied in country houses and the fine buildings Bristol and Bath.
So when it rains in Bath or Bristol or when the river swells with the tide and as the water turns the Saltford millwheel we remember and sense legacies of slave-ownership. We are mindful of our heritage. We are connected. Sweet Waters.
Legacies I am reflecting on
Global warming begins at the hearth of the slave-owning nations, hurricanes today drawing up the warmed Atlantic waters.
Colonial assertions of white skinned dominance feeds deep and long-lasting racism and the trauma of enslavement continues to fills prisons and mental hospitals.
Weapons from England sold in West Africa escalate violence and dislocation.
Cultures of addiction, sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee chocolate on which slave-owners fortunes are made.
Slave-owner wealth embodied in grand houses, parklands and cityscapes.
Enslaved people who survived carried beliefs, skills, stories and sound memories into the cultures they fashioned.
Echoes of resistance and survival in the popular music of today.
Richard White 2017