Remembrance, Legacy, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade – Ros Martin

Ros Martin, Bristol based artist and writer

Ros Martin creatively contributed to the University of  Bristol’s Institute for Advance Studies public panel discussion: ‘Slavery: Legacies and Remembrance’ on the 26 June 2014 with spoken word accompanying a music track, ‘Ethiopia’, composed and sung by Shropshire artist Polly Bolton. The soundtrack came from Bolton’s Magic of Song album.

‘Bolton’s haunting voice was my starting point for the pieces: ‘Ghost of our ancestors’ and ‘Remembering where I come from’ enabling spiritual connection with African ancestors. I wanted to respond personally to the silence in Bristol and the space: the Great Hall in Wills Memorial Building with a temporary sound memorialisation.’

Watch a video of her contribution.

Following the debate on 26 June 2014 in the Great Hall of Wills Memorial, panel members were asked to add what we would wish for the city.

What I would wish for Bristol?

To address the absence, give due recognition and respect to Bristol’s African ancestors contribution to the building of wealth in this city; a monument of a dignified African human being, evoking something of the Bristol African diaspora past and continuous struggles in the skyline in the city centre. (Not in a museum)
An addition plaque for the Colston statue in the centre clearly identifying his role in the transatlantic slave trade.
A name change for Colston Hall; as a mayor cultural venue for the city it needs to be fit for purpose with a name that seeks to unify all its Bristol residents and promotes the city’s aspiration for equality, social inclusion and social justice as culture should.
A carefully conceived, cross discipline, international centre of remembrance with objects. A centre that germinates ideas, raises projects, engages novel ways to dignify, learn, heal through memory’s journeys of the transatlantic trade, its ramifications and legacies today. At its heart, it should honour and readdress the silence regarding African ancestors and the diaspora contribution past and present to wealth and nation building.
This centre could be a place of healing for all. A place: of reflection, of campaign work; a centre of activism against commerce that denies people human dignity and rights.

A place to: curate exhibitions, hold seminars, show films, performances, talks, a place to: exchange ideas, thinking and work internationally. A centre: inspiring creative learning through public workshops from Bristol and other city’s transatlantic slave trading past and its trade legacies today.

It would enable us to better understand ourselves as human beings and our relationship with one another through the commodities we buy and trade.

Warmley Brassworks  27 June 2014 site visit

I’ve called it: ‘Capital’s Industry’

This piece was inspired following a site visit Mark Horton organised to Warmley Brass works 27 June 14 with panel members Cameron Monroe and Kodzo Gavua.

Capital’s Industry

Stretching out in front of you,
Horizons; old and new
Fetching up in the same space
A ghostly space.
Now, new build homes.
Recycled slag,
in Neptune, rising out of nowhere, ugly.

Ugliness is the sea’s dependence…….

spelter works residues
A marriage of science and entrepreneurship
Diverge from Bristol Brass company
Diversify into Warmley: a complete  works now
as Father Champions  son’s
Pioneering zinc speltering
augmenting his copper, brass spelter patent.

Contemplate how
Goldneys and Champions entwining wealth,
stump up capital from shareholders ready  to invest
and profit, completing this vast Warmley Brassworks.

Contemplate how
Nature’s elements profits all bountifully when harnessed into power,
privilege, status, innovation!

In furnaces, steam engine, waterwheels, dam, windmill,
Houses, shops, forge and battery mills,
the manufacture of plates, pans, vessels and pins,

2,000 toilers, oiling capital’s industry.
Mere cogs in this relentless triangle.

science at its best; generating  jobs, generating wealth!

Damn, the spanner in the spoke of Champions industrial ambitions!
Damn, the ganging up of former employers, Friends,
Bristol merchants, stalling expansion
Jealousies, resentments, feeding bankruptcy

See it?
Damn you!
Is always there.

This place, now
Eerily quiet,
unspeakably so.

Ros Martin

chalk one1st August, mark Emancipation Day, come, wish Bristol and the world better.

I am organising a public chalk event, a week Friday, August 1st from 2.00 to 4.00. Assembly 2.00 centre of Bristol by the fountains, to mark Emancipation Day  in Bristol which is marked in many former British colonies, areas of US and elsewhere.


– To raise awareness of the history behind it and the significance of the day
– To engage the random passerby with the day
– To encourage the passerby to relate and contribute with personal wishes. These could be words, messages that relate to their own emancipation/others struggles re what’s happening in the world, nationally, locally today.


Simple and effective, it informs and publicly engages the passerby, giving ‘little people’  a voice for a while whilst, creatively imagining a better Bristol and world. People are encouraged if they wish to, to express themselves re their concerns, and go on their way, a few stay. Open to all, any age, nationality, in any language…..

RESULT a temporary visual installation of our collective emancipation, wishes, dreams…. Come with chalks and enjoy the sunshine, or brave the rain, if only for a little while, Mark 1st August in Bristol, our bid for a better Bristol, a better world…..