Lubaina Himid by photographer Magda Stawarska

Turner Prize winning artist to open exciting new exhibition

Turner Prize winning artist Lubaina Himid will open a major new exhibition at Judges' Lodgings this month which will address an often-overlooked period of Lancaster's Black history.

British artist and UCLAN professor Lubaina Himid, who won the Turner Prize in 2017, will open the 'Facing the Past' exhibition at Judges' Lodgings Museum, which will look at Black Lancastrians living in the area in the 1700s.

A series of portraits have been commissioned from artist Lela Harris depicting historic individuals Thomas Anson, Frances Elizabeth Johnson, John Chance, Isaac Rawlinson, ‘Ebo Boy’ and Molly.

Lancaster was once the fourth largest slave trading port in the country, and slave ships made 125 slaving voyages from the city to West Africa. Some of the furniture and portraits on display at the museum were bought by Lancaster families involved in the slave trade and the West Indies trade in goods produced by enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, such as sugar and rum.

Lynda Jackson, Museum Manager of Judges' Lodgings, said: "We are very proud to present this fantastic exhibition which shines a light on an important period of our history.

"It is a great coup for artists Lela Harris and Lubaina Himid to be involved in this project. We give them our thanks and can not wait to see you when the museum re-opens on Thursday, March 30."

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, said: “The previously overlooked story of Lancaster’s Black history will be brought to light through this moving series of portraits by Lela Harris.

"I’m delighted that Art Fund has been able to support this important exhibition through our Reimagine grants programme, helping to deepen Judges’ Lodgings’ relationships with its community and engage new audiences."

The information on those featured in the new commissions comes from church records, runaway slave adverts and family stories. They lived at a time when Lancaster merchants invested in selling an estimated 30,000 enslaved Africans through the Atlantic Slave Trade.

They are shown alongside some of those who benefitted from slavery – Abraham Rawlinson, Mary Hutton Rawlinson, Benjamin Satterthwaite and Jane Hardman – painted by significant portrait artists including George Romney and Joseph Wright of Derby.

Some of the furniture and portraits on display at the museum were bought by Lancaster families involved in the slave trade and the West Indies trade in goods produced by enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, such as sugar and rum.

The portraits are accompanied by a young peoples' exhibition. Local school children from Bowerham Primary School, the Cathedral Catholic Primary School and Dallas Road Primary School have created portraits of ‘Ebo Boy’, a young African man who escaped from slavery in Heysham, Lancashire.

Enslaved Africans were often given new names to strip them of their identity. The children helped give ‘Ebo Boy’ a new name to reflect his African heritage and life story, Afamefuna, which means ‘My name will not be lost’ in the Igbo language.

The exhibition will run from March 30 to November 5 at Judges' Lodgings Museum in Lancaster. Supported by Art Fund, and the Association of Independent Museums and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery Players.

Notes to editors

Judges' Lodgings would like to extend an invitation to journalists to attend the exhibition preview on Tuesday, March 28 from 6.00pm, where Lubaina Himid will be available for interview. She may also be available earlier on request. Please RSVP

Judges' Lodgings is a unique historic house and museum in the city of Lancaster – close to its famous castle. It is Lancaster's oldest town house and was once home to judges who worked in Lancaster Castle. It is now home to an extensive collection of Gillow furniture from beds to billiard tables. Gillow was a major British furniture maker in Lancaster for over 200 years. It is one of six museums operated by Lancashire County Museum Service which aims to collect and preserve Lancashire’s diverse heritage and to make it accessible to everyone through high quality cultural experiences.

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by Art Partners, donors, trusts and foundations and the 135,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free or discounted entry to over 850 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. The winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022 is Horniman Museums & Gardens.

AIM is The Association of Independent Museums, a charity which supports museums in the UK. The New Stories New Audiences is a new grant scheme for AIM small museum members funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund. It aims to inspire museums to stay relevant to their audiences and to increase their impact by identifying new stories and by working with a new partner, to work differently and to try something new.