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A Visible Difference: skin, race and identity 1720-1820

To commemorate the UNESCO International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, Temi will talk about the exhibition 'A Visible Difference: skin, race and identity 1720-1820' currently on show at the Hunterian Museum.

The forgotten histories of black Africans living with skin pigmentation conditions in the 18th and early 19th centuries are explored through this talk.

On display are two rare paintings of black African slave children. The little-known portraits depict Mary Sabina, who was born in South America in 1736, and George Alexander Gratton, who was born in St Vincent in 1808. Both children had piebaldism - a rare genetic skin pigmentation condition causing extreme white patches on the skin.

George and Mary were among many black African men, women and children with similar conditions who were exhibited at public fairs and in private ‘curiosity collections’ as freaks of nature. These paintings illustrate the popular fascination with unusual bodies.

The talk will seek to find out how much of this history has changed and whether people are not equally as curious about visible differences now, as they were then.


Ms Temi Odumosu | talks | www


Date and Time:

23 August 2007 at 1:00 pm


1 hour



Hunterian Museum, London
The Royal College of Surgeons of England
35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields
020 7869 6560

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