Association of Unknown Shores (AUS) is a collaborative art practice and expanded, socially-engaged platform that exists to explore the legacies of enforced exchange that have taken place between the lands that are now known as the UK and Canada.
AUS works with the physical and social impacts of the 16th-Century Frobisher journeys from Britain to Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island, Nunavut). Specifically, from 1576-78 Frobisher brought to Bristol: three Inuit - Kalicho, Arnaq and Nutaaq - where they soon died and were buried at St Stephen's Church; thousands of tons of iron ore in the belief that it was gold; and a narwhal tusk, which was gifted to Queen Elizabeth I for its magical properties. In Nunavut, on Kodlunarn Island, Frobisher left English oak, an English stone house, bread and metal decorative objects.
Bristol’s past relationship to the Arctic and the ongoing legacies of that relationship are little recognised. Where Bristol is beginning to acknowledge its reliance on and role in the development of slave-based economies, specifically chattel slavery and the transatlantic trade of enslaved African people, this earlier historical context and its important legacies remain unspoken.
AUS questions what it means to acknowledge and work with the histories between the two shores: Bristol’s and Qikiqtaaluk’s. Our purpose is to generate and facilitate cross-cultural, intergenerational exchange through artistic and cultural practices. Through processes of naming, mapping, material and performative exchange we work with the trouble of colonial legacies, building towards different relationships with the past, present and future. Specifically, we explore how collaboration could benefit transatlantic communities and relations by addressing coloniality through arts and cultural practices.