Julian Germain: Extraordinary experiences, loaded with uncertainty
In 2014 the photographic artist Julian Germain was commissioned to respond to the life story of Nathaniel Wells (1779 – 1852) who was born into slavery on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean, the illegitimate child of a slave woman and sugar plantation owner. Extraordinarily, at the age of 9, Nathaniel was sent to Britain to be educated and he subsequently inherited his father’s fortune, along with the sugar plantations and slaves, including his own mother. In 1802, at the age of only 23 and a mixed race ‘black’ man of African descent, he purchased one of the finest houses in Wales, Piercefield House near Chepstow. From there, he lived the life of a country gentleman and became a magistrate, deputy lieutenant and County Sheriff.
Germain retraced the steps of Nathaniel Wells from his now derelict estate at Piercefield House to his birthplace in the West Indies. The images reflect upon the sugar industry, slavery and colonialism and consider the ongoing significance of the historical links between the two locations, as well as how today’s social and economic landscape continues to necessitate migration and how this movement of people manifests in Wales. The work was commissioned by Fotogallery (now based in Merthyr Tydfil) in partnership with Chepstow Museum (who have a particular local historical interest because Piercefield House is nearby) for Diffusion, the Cardiff International Festival of Photography.
If you want to know more about the artist Julian Germain: http://www.juliangermain.com
This interview has been first published in Arts Cabinet website:
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