Art e-Facts 34

Downpresserer by Graham Fagen was produced following a research trip to Jamaica in 2006.

The work was commissioned as part of a year-long programme of events run by Glasgow City Council to mark the bicentenary anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, and part of the exhibition tells the story of the attempts of Robert Burns, who was appalled by the slave trade, to become a bookkeeper on a plantation in Jamaica.

Downpresserer exemplifies Fagen’s ongoing interest in combining elements of Scottish national heritage (such as the writings of Robert Burns) with that of the West Indies (Jamaican reggae). The title of the show, comes from the song Downpresser Man by the celebrated Jamaican musician Peter Tosh (1944-87). A photographic portrait of Tosh’s mother, Mama Tosh, is included in the exhibition alongside a video installation of an impromptu performance of Robert Burns’s poem Slave’s Lament. Fagen made both these works on a research trip to Jamaica in 2006.

Downpresser can be seen at Glasgows Gallery of Modern Art until May 28th.