GoMA Handling Box | Bronze Medal and Sugar Nippers

GoMA At Home was devised by the curatorial team at the gallery during the first lockdown to develop new and ambitious content exploring new ways of inviting audiences to engage with our collection and public programmes. This involved inviting audiences to GoMA’s home in central Glasgow but also – through the creation of digital content on the blog – inviting those who continue to shield or are otherwise unable to attend the gallery to explore our home from the comfort of their own.

We were delighted to be awarded a grant from Glasgow City Heritage Trust (August 2020 – March 2022) towards the creation of new content on the heritage of our iconic Glasgow building. One of the elements of this Sharing Heritage project involved commissioning responses to the GoMA Handling Box. This is a portable box of objects from the collection that tell aspects of the history and heritage – within the context of Glasgow – of the building that GoMA currently occupies. We are mindful that the stories we tell are informed by diverse voices, and after a call out in August 2021 commissioned writing from Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston and a short film from Emmanuel Kurewa.

Both Heshani and Emmanuel selected a bronze medal given to children in 1934 to commemorate the end of slavery and some silver sugar nippers. In the first stage of making both of these commissions public (more to come soon), we are publishing the revised information that Heshani wrote for both objects here and adding them to the resources in the Handling Box.

Sugar Nippers, silver, 18th Century E.1946.87.cy

Between 1766–91, the British West Indies produced over one million tons of sugar. Sugar nippers were a tool used for cutting off small pieces of sugar. Affluent people in Britain used the larger, plain nippers in kitchens and the smaller, decorated nippers at the tea table.

Before the Victorian inventors created ready-to-use granulated sugar, grocer shops would sell sugar in hard, cone-shaped sugar loaves. Households would then buy these whole sugar loaves or a lump of broken sugar by weight. This sugar would then have to be crushed by sugar breakers and nippers in the kitchen and at the dining tables. Read more here

Bronze Medal, 1834 1946.87.cy

This bronze medallion was given to the children to commemorate the abolishment of slavery in Britain.

On one side stands a freed enslaved man with his arms lifted. Around the edge of the medallion is the inscription from Psalm 23, verse 18: ‘This is the Lord’s doing. It is marvellous in our eyes’. Inscribed on the other side of the medal is: ‘In commemoration of the extinction of colonial slavery throughout the British Dominions in the reign of William the IV, August 1, 1834’.

Read more here

Commissions supported by a Glasgow City Heritage Trust Sharing Heritage Grant.
All texts © Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston

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