Wampanoag Pottery Commission

The Box

The Box | Tavistock Place | Plymouth | Devon PL4 8AX 01752 304774 Email Facebook Twitter

As well as the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, 2020 also sees Plymouth’s first artistic collaboration with the Wampanoag people thanks to a new commission from The Box. 

‘This is significant and symbolic for the city. It connects us to the Native Americans, whose ancestors met the passengers of the Mayflower 400 years ago, and ensured their survival. Working with the Wampanoag people today helps us to understand the past and the present.’ 
Nicola Moyle, Head of Heritage, Art and Film for The Box

The Box has been working with Wampanoag cultural advisors for three years, and this collaboration has helped make the commission possible. 

Ramona Peters, who specialises in traditional ceramics, has created a new artwork for 2020. Her new piece – a ceramic cooking pot – is based on historic Wampanoag designs. 

‘My work allows me the honor of reviving my ancestors’ art through time. This pot is a representation of a 1600s Wampanoag cooking pot like the ones used inside family dwellings called wetu. There were often no windows or light except for the fire. The white inlay clay is meant to help locate the pot in the darkened interior.’
Ramona Peters, artist

Ramona, also known as Nosapocket, is a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation. As a potter working today, she helps to sustains traditional Wampanoag clay craft from the 1600s. 

The piece will be displayed as part of the ‘Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ exhibition at The Box when it opens. The cooking pot will then become part of the city’s permanent collections and a legacy of the modern collaboration between Plymouth and the Wampanoag Nation. 

The Box is grateful to Ramona Peters, the Wampanoag cultural agency Smoke Sygnals and the Friends of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery for their support with the commission.  

The Wampanoag people are known as the ‘People of the First Light’. There are two Wampanoag Nations in Massachusetts – Mashpee and Aquinnah. Together they have a population of just over 5,000 people. 

The ‘Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ exhibition at The Box will explore early English attempts to colonise America, recognise conflict and coexistence with Native America, address the political and religious context for the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620, detail the lives of its passengers, and consider the cultural, demographic and personal legacies of the story.  

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