CAROLYN SCOTT                                                                         CONSIDERED CARGO

Inspired by the contemporary novel Joseph Knight by James Robertson (published in 2003), and gathered from 18th and 19th century records, journals, diaries and letters, Considered Cargo gives a brief insight into the considerable involvement that the North East of Scotland, and in particular Montrose, had in the historic slave trade.

The Union of Parliaments of 1707 allowed the Scots to trade openly with what had formerly been English colonies, while receiving protection from the British Navy.

During the first half of the 18th century the port of Montrose, with a population around 4,250, built a thriving tobacco trade with The Americas. The fortunes of the tobacco merchants rested on a convenient and lucrative triangular trade route. Ships known as ‘Snows’ would leave home for European ports, where they would trade local products such as salmon, textiles and processed tobacco. With now empty holds, they would then travel to West Africa. Africans were taken aboard and, in the most horrendous conditions, carried over the Atlantic to the West Indies and North America, to be sold as slaves. The ships would then be loaded with tobacco for the homeward voyage ready for the process to begin again.

In the colonies the dream was to earn money and return home with enough wealth to buy land and position in society. The legacy of this ambition can be seen in many of the large country houses and estates in the surrounding area, built from vast fortunes made in the ‘tobacco trade’.

Considered Cargo was first shown at the Society of Scottish Artists ‘Empire’ Exhibition, August 2015 at Wall Projects, Montrose.

Carolyn Scott and Andy Sim [October 2016]