Thanksgiving/Illuminate 2021 Art Exhibition Brief for Artists

Online: 15th November – 31st December 2021
At Babworth Church: 27th & 28th November 2021


The theme for the Art Exhibition this year is that of thanksgiving – however artists wish to interpret that.
Previously created Mayflower-themed artworks will also be welcomed and, as previously, there is no selection process, and all are invited to participate.

In 2020, Covid 19 set us significant challenges, however, technology came to the rescue – this year we are again asking artists to record their work and give some background information to it.

There is no selection process or fee to enter. Artists may offer their work for sale or not as they wish – if they are selling, they will need their own means of doing so. No commission will be charged for work sold. There are no age limits.

All work should be inspired by the Thanksgiving / Wampanoag / Separatist / Mayflower Pilgrims Stories – this does not mean they have to be pictures of Mayflower ships – they should be inspired by the stories; however they are interpreted. After the time of the exhibition images and recordings may be retained for ongoing reference and communications.

Any medium may be used with due regard to its suitability in the environments and locations exhibiting the work and the health and safety of the public. The organisers reserve the right to take down any unsuitable materials.

Work for the online exhibition should be sent to by Friday 5th November; with each piece should be the artist’s name and contact details, a title/short description (200 words max.) of how the work relates to the Thanksgiving / Wampanoag / Separatist / Mayflower Pilgrims stories, the medium used, and a price (if offered for sale). All work supplied (photographs, films etc) will become the property of the organiser and will be used entirely at the organiser’s discretion for publicity and communications purposes in line with the theme of the exhibition.

Work for the exhibition at Babworth Church should be delivered between 10am and 3pm on Friday 26th November and collected between 4pm and 5pm on Sunday 28th November 2021.

Programmes will be created from the information supplied and these will be made available.

In 2021, we are also inviting talks, performance and music recordings with some relevance to the story of the Thanksgiving / Wampanoag / Separatists / Mayflower Pilgrims stories, however connected, and these may be included in the exhibition. Please let us know by 30th October if you would like to take part.

Please also see and or contact

Mayflower painting by Gerry Fruin
The Mayflower by Gerry Fruin

Thanksgiving/Illuminate 2021

This year, we will be working with Bassetlaw Foodbank to deliver an opportunity for people to provide gifts of food to help those less fortunate. This will be a way for people to give thanks for their own lives whilst helping others to survive in modern hardship. We think this would be a good way to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving.

We will be giving donors battery candles to display in their windows on 25th November (Thanksgiving in 2021) and will be inviting them to post photographs of these to reflect the theme of Illuminate. We will also support schools in creating their own Illuminate features and will invite them to send photographs for our online display.


On 25th November 2021, the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving meal will be commemorated. This was a meal which was shared between the newly arrived settlers to North America – the Mayflower Pilgrims – and the local population who had formed an alliance with them.

In the first year, half of the passengers from the Mayflower had died, having arrived at the start of winter, ill-prepared for what was to come. Members of the native population showed them which crops to grow, and how to go about it. A year on from their arrival a celebration meal took place with the settlers and the leader of the local Wampanoag people and one hundred of his warriors.

This anniversary is not celebrated by the Wampanoag people today. The successful establishment of the Europeans was followed by large scale incursion across the continent. Thanksgiving has been marked, since 1970, among many Native Americans as a National Day of Mourning.

Millions of Americans mark Thanksgiving as a celebration of family and an opportunity to give thanks for what they have. People travel across the country to enjoy a meal together, usually featuring turkey. The original meal would probably have consisted of shellfish and cereals.

Cultural appropriateness

It is important to be aware of the cultural sensitivities related to the characterisation of the Native American People. Steven Peters (, provides this perspective for artists:

“We are asking them to create art that reshapes UK history and culture and not native culture. The history is intertwined but simply asking them to do it from their perspective and not to appropriate native culture.

Art Challenge: Reshaping History and Culture

Popular culture has grossly appropriated stereotypical elements of what we perceive as traditional culture. It has normalized racially insensitive media portrayals such as the “Piccaninny Tribe” in Disney’s Peter Pan. Many contemporary Native American artists are now using their work to challenge the way we look at history and culture. Creating multi-disciplinary work that bucks the demeaning notion that Native Art is all “beads and feathers.” Often this new artwork is a mix of entirely contemporary-looking aesthetics with historical or traditional elements of Native culture. These works can be in the style of Pop Art or films with contemporary dance over traditional songs or repurposing objects.

How will the artists of the UK challenge the history they learned and reshape our understanding of the historical events that have shaped the world we live in today?”