all I want is a nice day out
All I want is a nice day out was an installation at Ambika P3, London, running from 25 November to 1 December 2022
"Why is the Trust spending ill-afforded sums on researching slavery within houses and generously gifted properties and land? The majority of members just want to see beautiful houses and gardens, not have others' opinions pushed down their throats." So wrote ‘Diana from Leicester’ to the National Trust in response to its report on links between its properties and historic slavery.
Slavery’s contribution to the development of the United Kingdom’s economy is not opinion but fact. When the UK abolished colonial slavery in 1833, the government paid £20 million in compensation - 40% of its total annual spending - not to the enslaved, but to 50,000 slave-owners. The equivalent value today is at least £17 billion.
Half of the total compensation went to absentee slave-owners – those living comfortably in the UK but owning enslaved people in the colonies. Behind their respectable front doors, these pillars of society - including MPs, clergymen, accountants, barristers, and doctors - held property of a darker kind.
The installation consists of a 7m x 3m panel displaying all the entries from the Accounts of Slave Compensation Claims published by the House of Commons in 1835, overlaid with photographs of the front doors of a cross-section of the recipients, identified in the adjacent key. The Accounts list the names of all those slave owners who received compensation after the abolition of slavery, together with the amounts paid. An accompanying audio installation features readings of correspondence between claimants and the Slave Compensation Commission. It was the slave owners who received compensation - nothing was paid to the enslaved people.