A young man in 18th Century Glasgow, leads us on a powerful journey of over 500 years of resistance through the streets of the Merchant City down to the River Clyde. 

Audiences are invited to download a bespoke app, to plug in their headphones, and immerse themselves in this AR experience exploring the myth of the collective amnesia of slavery and racialised wealth, of empire and identity, and of being lost and found in space and time. 

Using extraordinary visuals and sound design, Ghosts will take audiences on a physical and emotional journey, walking through the heart of modern Glasgow. A lament to lives lost and an impassioned call to action in the present day. 

Lead artist Adura Onashile has worked with researcher Adebusola Ramsay, composer Niroshini Thambar, historian Dr Peggy Brunache and developers at immersive design outfit Bright Side Studios to explore the legacies of Glasgow’s past through augmented reality to tell an urgent and essential story about the city. 

The story at the heart of Ghosts was inspired by adverts placed in newspapers for the capture of escaped enslaved people in Glasgow and the rest of Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries. These adverts have been collated in the “Runaway” Slavery project, which has seen the creation of a searchable archive of hundreds of real newspaper advertisements that were published by the city’s slave-owners seeking, and often rewarding, the capture and return of the enslaved people who had escaped their service. 

Lead Artist Adura Onashile:

“The young man that audiences will follow is our attempt to make real, over 500 years of history, rebellion, resistance and protest. When enslaved Africans liberated themselves from their masters, they started a process that continues today. 

We don’t know what happened to him, and history hasn’t afforded him a name or presence, but this is our attempt at saying that he existed, and though we can’t be sure whether he ever found the refuge he was seeking, this is our attempt to put his ghost to rest.”

Glasgow has begun to acknowledge its former ties to the slave trade. Last year the University of Glasgow became one of the first educational institutions in the United Kingdom to attempt to openly atone for its historical links to the slave trade, announcing that it would pay £20 million as part of a restorative justice scheme. 

Adura Onashile has been developing the idea for Ghosts for about seven years. She had always envisioned it as an intimate project that would involve walking through Glasgow’s built heritage. 

More recently the use of phones in Ghosts, through which audiences will experience the work, has become more prescient, with smartphones having become instrumental both as tools of protest and in galvanising of social justice movements across the world.

Adura Onashile is an award-winning Glasgow based writer, actor and director whose work is known to Scottish audiences, and has toured to India, Brazil, Trinidad, Jamaica, South Africa, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. Her debut as a film maker, Expensive Shit, premiered at the BFI London Film Festival 2020 and is showing as part of the Glasgow Film Festival from 5 to 8 March 2021.

Ghosts is also creatively supported by Alberta Whittle as Research Artist Consultant, Zoë Charlery as Creative Researcher and Claricia Parinussa as Associate Producer.

How can I access Ghosts?

Dates: 12 to 25 April Ghosts can be downloaded from either the App Store for Apple or Google Play for Android devices.

Price: £4.99

Minimum mobile specs: iPhone 6S and above and Android 7 and above. Fully charged battery required

Running Time: one hour (approx)

Access: route is accessible for wheelchair users. Details of accessible versions will be available on nationaltheatrescotland.com in April.