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The Wall of Words

Slavery and justice, legacies of Dido Belle and Lord Mansfield

Created by Beyonder, Multimedia Artist & Educator to invite a creative literary response from visitors to the 'Slavery and Justice' exhibition at Kenwood House. The Wall of Words, a literary mural, is a traditional artistic intervention used to empower the visitor experience where they can share, exchange and interact with the artist and Kenwood House in a unique yet powerful way. Beyonder’s job was to observe and create a new literary piece of work in the form of a poem from the musings that were recorded by the visitors to the Wall of Words.

Two young girls add their contributions to the wall of words
Two young girls add their contributions to the wall of words

A glimpse into a hidden past…
Let’s scratch the surface of British history
Uncover the heinous and the thuggery
The law and economics aiding skull duggery
Trade in human lives branding minds ugly

Old times in England…
Triangular trade
, aristocracy, Kenwood House
Of Lord – Chief Justice, Lord of Law, Lord Mansfield
Somerset, Strong, Lewis, Zong
Breaking cases, setting paces, against the grain, against the profane

The Belle of Kenwood House
For whom history tolls
The Black, the beautiful, the exotic, the aristocrat
On par with…or unequal?

A woman named after a mythical queen…
Dido belle, one of the lucky ones
One of the few that has come to light
Hidden away in privileged homes
Like African History, spoken about in mythical tones

A very narrow look on a wider situation – like looking through a keyhole…
Millions of Africans were enslaved by the British

As pets, property, the latest fashionable item
Servants, skivvies, and cash cropped chattel
Creating the wealthy foundation on which society now stands

Interesting to see differing British attitudes…
“Duh what’s slave trade, I am smart and I do not know?”
Curiosity of today’s society is now beginning to show
“Fascinating”, “Interesting”, “Taught me something I didn’t know”
Scary isn’t it,
law for abolition occurred only 200 years ago.

Wall of Words © 2007 Beyonder all rights reserved
Note:all the emboldened text is directly from visitor text written on the Wall of Words or inspired by images drawn on the Wall of Words.

This poem was created as a live installation on 28 May, 1 June, and 3 June 2007 by Beyonder, Multimedia Artist & Educator for English Heritage’s Kenwood House. Inspired by the Wall of Words and created by visitors to the Slavery & Justice Exhibition on the Legacies of Dido Belle and Lord Mansfield.

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