What does 1807 mean now?

Can the arts effect social and political change?



Two thousand and seven marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, but it is important to note that this did not mean the emancipation of slaves or the end of the institution. Slavery in the Caribbean and other British territories did not end until 1834. In practical terms the 1807 Act prohibited the transport of slaves in British ships, and gave the Royal Navy licence to stop and search the ships of other nations.

Tate’s contribution to the 1807 commemoration aims to:

  • Mark the abolition of Britain’s Transatlantic Slave Trade by engaging and informing a wide public about the themes and issues highlighted during this period through the visual culture, historical documentation and contemporary perspectives on 1807. There are activities in Tate galleries throughout 2007, and Tate is lending works from its Collection to support significant events such as The Oloudah Equiano Project in Birmingham. 
  • Engage and inform a wide public about the significance for our own times of the themes – such as freedom, citizenship and human rights – which achieved their modern definitions during the period around 1807. 
  • Explore the significance of the Collection and of the values championed by Tate in terms of re-assessing tradition and reflecting changing concepts of national identity, in the context of the 1807 commemoration. Speakers: Mark Wallinger, artist Nivek Amichund, member of Visual Dialogues Chris Jones, member of an anarchist bookshop Mike Phillips, writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, journalist Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties)