This month I launched the website for a project I've been working on for the past few months: Narrating the Diverse Past. It was a joint University of Reading and British Museum partnership project, and had a number of different parts.
One of the parts was a digital interactive exhibition, "Mapping Collections Histories: Connecting Barbados and Britain". This grew somewhat organically from the research I began earlier in the summer (see Colonial Archaeology in the Caribbean), but with a focus on histories of archaeological collections that connected Barbados to Britain (as the title suggests).
I've explored some of the storylines in this exhibition via threads on Twitter, but in this post I want to talk a bit more about the illustrations that accompany my text in the exhibition. These are the work of Michelle Keeley-Adamson, whose illustrations from historic excavation photographs I was introduced to during the summer.
The Mapping Collections Histories exhibition features three different maps. The base map shows Britain and Barbados "in context" as it were, with a dotted line to highlight the distance (and connection) between them. This is loosely based on an old map of the British Empire. Then there are separate maps of Britain and Barbados.
The Barbados map shows the basic outline of the parish boundaries (the equivalent, basically, of counties in the UK), and has 5 illustrations superimposed to highlight five locations relevant to the theme of the exhibition. Each illustration draws inspiration from historic photographs or drawings that we found online. The illustration for Farley Hill, home of Barbadian collector Thomas Graham Briggs, was based on an old postcard; the drawings for Mount Ararat Estate and Conset point were based on illustrations in an article published in 1870 by the British antiquarian Greville Chester, who explored, collected and conducted an excavation during his roughly year long residence in Barbados in the late 1860s. The illustration for Bridgetown is based on historic photographs of the city streets. The illustration for Codrington College is based on photographs from old Barbados guidebooks online.
For the Britain map, again we turned to historic images found online and digitised books. One of the most exciting elements of this map for me was seeing Michelle's recreated display interiors for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886, drawing inspiration from sketches in the Illustrated London News and Frank Cundall's Reminiscences of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. The Blackmore Collection in Salisbury image is based on old photographs and an Illustrated London News drawing of the interior of the museum, which was closed in 1930s.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition as much as I enjoyed creating it!