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Lucy Whetsone

Lucy Whetsone, as Curator of the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, was responsible for Naming the Money, a substantial exhibition by Lubaina Himid, 17 January - 13 March 2004. It consisted of 100 life size figures, each representing the largely un-named captured Africans who, whilst in effect slaves, were used as servile adornment by wealthy families in Britain and other parts of Europe, during the many years of the slave slave. The exhibition came with this hard cover catalogue, A5 portrait in size, prolifically illustrated, and with substantial supporting texts in the form of correspondence from Himid to the curator, brief summaries of the names and identities that Himid assigned to her 100 figures, and an essay by Whetstone.

The flyer for the exhibition carried, on its reverse, a particularly useful introduction to the exhibition, written by Himid herself. “When I began this project I was convinced that it was about money. It has certainly cost a great deal of money to make. It’s true that Naming the Money is about how the moneyed classes all over Europe have spent their loot, flaunted their power and wealth by using Africans as slaves. The installation shows how this was disguised and glamourised; they looked like servants or were dressed in the clothes of courtiers, they often provided the entertainment just by looking different and were at their most useful as the greatest conspicuous display of wealth imaginable.

I also thought this installation was about re iterating (sic) the facts and highlighting the immense contribution that Africans have made to the economic foundation of Europe.”

Within the catalogue essay by Whetstone, ‘Putting a name to the face’, she states that, “The people in Naming the Money are in contrast to so many of the black people who populate western painting. The black characters that traditionally appear in so many history paintings, allegorical scenes, stories from the Bible and portraits, are for the most part, nameless. Their role is almost subsidiary. Like Lubaina Himid’s Dancing Master or Dog Trainer, they most frequently appear as servants, the anonymous suporting act to the principle player - the white master.”

Related items

click to show details of Naming the Money - catalogue

»  Naming the Money - catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 2004