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Inside the invisibleMemorialising Slavery and Freedom in the Life and Works of Lubaina Himid$
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Celeste-Marie Bernier, Alan Rice, Lubaina Himid, and Hannah Durkin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620856

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620856.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 23 June 2021

‘The “ghost” of it all’: Tragedy, Trauma and a ‘people there and not there’ in Le Rodeur (2016)

‘The “ghost” of it all’: Tragedy, Trauma and a ‘people there and not there’ in Le Rodeur (2016)

(p.279) 13 ‘The “ghost” of it all’: Tragedy, Trauma and a ‘people there and not there’ in Le Rodeur (2016)
Inside the invisible

Celeste-Marie Bernier

Alan Rice

Lubaina Himid

Hannah Durkin

Liverpool University Press

Working with a painterly rather than a poetic language, Himid made the radical decision to do justice not to ‘fettered and blind’ bodies and souls as torn apart by ‘agony and blood’, but to reimagine and recreate empowering narratives of Black diasporic artistry, agency and authority across Le Rodeur (2016–18), a series of acrylic on canvas works which is the subject of this chapter. She was inspired to create these paintings by listening to the pioneering cultural historian Anita Rupprecht deliver an academic paper, entitled ‘Modernity, Melancholy and the Transatlantic Slave Trade: The Story of the Slave Ship, Le Rodeur (1819)’, in Preston in 2015. As Himid admits, Rupprecht’s talk had an immediate impact by inspiring her own imaginative response. ‘I was having to make pictures while I was listening to her’, she confirms, remembering that ‘I was just listening to her and making pictures in my head about the actual occurrence’. And yet she was all too aware that ‘I couldn’t make paintings of hundreds of people going blind as it was too horrible’. This chapter examines her powerful statement that, ‘I was struck by the horror of the incident but also by the dread of losing sight, especially as a visual artist’, she readily confides, admitting that ‘[i]t was the most frightening thing I could think of’.

Keywords:   Lubaina Himid, Slavery, Memory, Freedom, the Body, Representation, Trauma, violence, activism, agency, resistance, rebellion, revolution, radicalism

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