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Slave owner Sir Thomas Picton portrait put back on display in museum’s side room

The portrait of Picton has returned alongside new artworks by Trinidadian artists.

reframing picton national museum cardiff

The portrait of slave owner Sir Thomas Picton has been put back on display in a travel case in a side room at National Museum Cardiff as part of the ‘Reframing Picton’ exhibition.

The painting by Sir Martin Archer Shee was taken down from the museum’s Faces of Wales gallery in November 2021. It has returned alongside two new artworks from Trinidadian artists to reinterpret Picton’s life and legacy.

The new commissions are by Trinidadian and Tobagonian multi-disciplinary artist Gesiye and UK-based Laku Neg, a group of four artists, three of Trinidadian heritage.

The slave owner‘s portrait is now surrounded by descriptions of his brutal treatment of the people of Trinidad during his governorship, including the torture of 14-year-old Luisa Calderon.

‘Reframing Picton’ at National Museum Cardiff

The project is part of a youth-led initiative called ‘Reframing Picton’. It is sponsored by Amgueddfa Cymru and run in collaboration with the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel.

“For the longest time Picton has been celebrated in Wales, said Fadhili Maghiya, director at the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel.

“Now for the first time, communities that were historically exploited and abused by the likes of Picton have a reason to celebrate.”

“Reframing Picton aims to rewrite our future by challenging the way we engage with history,” he added.

“We hope this is the beginning of discovery to the many neglected voices that makes Wales a prosperous, globally responsible nation that brings communities together to thrive.”

The project team worked with the museum’s curators to provide additional information and context about Picton, a Welsh officer of the British Army who was celebrated as a public hero.

Reinterpreting Picton’s life and legacy

“For generations, even up to recent years, saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been controversial,” said the Reframing Picton project team.

“In the time we worked on this project we made a point to expose – not erase – history, and it was essential that we directly involved people connected to Trinidad, where Picton entrenched his reputation for barbarism during his tenure as governor.”

“We’ve made it clear that we are committed to creating an anti-racist Wales by 2030 – but in order to achieve this objective, we must all think about who we commemorate and how we do so,” said Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt.

Reframing Picton will be at National Museum Cardiff until 3 September 2023.

Images: National Museum Cardiff

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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