TSTM: Bristol (Transatlantic Slave Trade Memorial), UK, 2012 -
Location: Bristol, UK
Project Status: Ongoing
The Transatlantic Slave Trade Memorial: Bristol, located on the River Severn, aims to provide a reference point of remembrance and education to Africans enslaved under the trade and their descendants.
The memorial proposal comprises of a subtle intervention on the banks of the River Severn intended to engage the visitor through a route of existing paths within the local landscape. The proposal represents a contemplative and interactive connection reflecting the gravity and context of the African slave trade and the journey to the unknown.
The intervention comprises of a series of 8 long narrow open-air passageways divided by a series of tall weathered steel walls. Spaced just over one and a half metres and rising from 3 to 4 metres, each passage denotes a solitary and confined journey.
This reflects a strong resonance with the corridors and passages within the slave forts of West Africa (Senegal / Ghana), where the journey of enslavement often began.
The passage walls lead to an interior chamber and oversail a dark central sunken void at the core of the space articulating the central element of the memorial and an enduring sense of loss. This not only recalls a reference to the brutal cargo hold of the transatlantic slave ship but also the legacy of lost freedom, identitiy and origins.
The intervention culminates through the continuation of the passage walls that present a series of framed views over the River Severn and a backdrop to a space for gathering and reflection. Each framed view is just over a metre wide and gives a fixed view towards the Bristol Channel, an important maritime threshold point for embarked and returning slave vessels.