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National Museum of the Royal Navy

Chasing Freedom

Slavery is a hugely emotive subject, and the Royal Navy’s role in its history a complex one. Philip Simpson Design’s strategy for the highly successful exhibition ‘Chasing Freedom: The Royal Navy and the Suppression of the Transatlantic Slave Trade’ was to create a calm and thoughtful atmosphere with sepia-tinted photographs, honing in on the experience and the humanity of its subjects. These were enriched with maps and etchings to convey the geography, the vessels and equipment involved. This highlighted the human misery of the experience, both for the enslaved and the sailors whose service in stamping out the trade meant long months at sea, under miserable conditions. Personal accounts and diaries of captives and naval personnel are used to bring the squalid and often fatal experience to life.


A tight budget of £30,000 was deployed in large, impactful graphics. Original photography was commissioned to create a powerful identity for the exhibition. “Using original photography helped us to develop something strong and unique to the Royal Naval Museum,” says Simpson, who won the tender in partnership with reprographics experts UVI against 23 other companies.


The RNM learning development officer Deborah Hodson commented:


“Philip and his team design a great exhibition – the graphics really stood out from the other tenders and the final result is stunning”, she says.

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