Are you stuck for something to do with the kids this half term? You could take a trip on the Mersey ferry Snowdrop on 27-31 May, which has been transformed with a fantastic dazzle inspired artwork designed by Sir Peter Blake. Dazzle was a scheme created in the First World War which saw Allied ships painted in outlandish designs to make them more difficult to target by enemy U-boats. Read more…
Seized! is a permanent gallery situated in the Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Albert Dock Liverpool. The gallery explores the mysterious world of smuggling and the way in which the Border Force protects society against harms caused by this illegal activity. Read more…
““L8 is a state of mind.” Local historian Laurence Westgaph’s phrase is one I’ve heard repeatedly since starting to curate and produce L8 Unseen.
It’s a hook, a riff that I couldn’t get out of my head. Simple enough to understand but raising more questions than answers. What makes a community? What gels people together for generations? Where can we find the characters and stories making those connections? Why should they matter to anyone outside L8?
Starting in February, we interviewed, filmed and took photographic portraits of L8 people – people who had grown up, lived, worked in the area. We had just 16 weeks to complete all the portraits (including 20 large-scale prints), film and edit 40 oral histories, create interactive links for a smartphone app, develop and install a website and interactive kiosk.
But the biggest challenge was to gain the trust of a tight-knit and protective community. Born and bred in Brixton, hundreds of miles south, I was an outsider. The community was not that different from the one I grew up in – Sus laws, riots, activism, music, energy, openness, sharing, curiosity and warmth – but L8 has an extra swagger of pride and resilience.
It has stories – from a multi-cultural community about to be massively transformed. In ten years parts of L8 will be unrecognisable or no longer exist. Jobs might come with the investment but so will increased property prices and rents; social and youth services hollowed out; people and community displaced. As the developers, councils and landlords play their game of Monopoly, those most at risk are least able to play the game or even tilt the playing board. L8 Unseen is channeling Liverpool 8’s past, present and future, providing a rare glimpse of a community spirit that refuses to die.
The project has so far attracted little national media coverage – but the response to L8 Unseen has been astounding with over 60,000 visitors in just over a month. Word of mouth at community level has brought people in to make discoveries. Like Vivian Walcott, who came to the exhibition with her daughter, finding a black and white portrait of herself taken at a street party over 30 years ago.
And many other stories. Ann Lopez, mother of 5 children and 20 grandchildren, at the age of 40 went back to college to finish her O and A levels. Listen how she talks powerfully about how she discovered her voice as a poet.
Cherise Smith represents the future of L8. In her early 20’s, she has been part of the Tiber young people steering group since schooldays. She recently joined the board of directors of this social enterprise hub and is playing a key role in the development of her local area. Cherise was voted joint Female Achiever of the Year at The Black Achievers Awards, Liverpool (2013).
L8 Unseen has profoundly changed my understanding of the transformative power of stories. As a storyteller I now have evidence that, when shared, they empower and make a difference.
L8 is more than just a state of mind. It’s a sense of identity and pride and resilience; and it’s a community which has over time had its heart ripped out, broken and scattered. But which picks itself up, licks its wounds, re-groups and gets on with business. I came away with a strong sense that the L8 community is tougher and more resilient than we ‘outsiders’ can understand. Fragile and malleable; yet tough as graphene.
I hope you get to see L8 Unseen before it closes on 6 September.”
Love was well and truly in the air at the Walker Art Gallery earlier this month, when our Visitor Services team were called upon to help out with a very special visitor request…
Meghan Crockett, Assistant Visitor Services Manager, tells us how the plan came together – with very happy results!
“We had a phone call on Saturday afternoon from a man named John who was planning to propose to his girlfriend Jennifer at the Gallery. Read more…
This blog post is the third in a series written by maritime historian and author J Kent Layton, the author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy:
“Over the years, I have tried to ‘fill in the blanks’ in the Lusitania’s history. One of the most fascinating things about the construction of the Lusitania and Mauretania is that not everything went according to plan. Read more…
Alice Seeley Harris’ photographs of the Free State Congo in the 1900s revealed the horror of colonial violence and exploitation to the world. Our exhibition Brutal Exposure: the Congo at the International Slavery Museum highlights how these images were used to overthrow King Leopold II’s brutal regime. Over a century after Alice took these photographs, students in Kansas have been inspired by her story and have developed a wonderful project acknowledging her work. One of the students tells us more…
“My name is Avery Stratton. I am a senior at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka, Kansas, in the United States. A couple of my peers and I are currently working on an entry for the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Project competition in Fort Scott, Kansas, which is an effort to highlight individuals who have demonstrated immense courage and compassion in the past who may have not received the recognition they deserve
Alexis Balaun, one of our team members, discovered Alice Seeley Harris while watching a documentary on the Congo. Alice’s heart-wrenching photos were showcased, but not much was said about the person behind the camera. Intrigued by this brave woman, Alexis presented her to our group and we knew that Alice would make the perfect focus for our project. Read more…
Last December I blogged about Brenda Shackleton’s fight for greater recognition of the remarkable story of the Merchant Navy Rescue ships and their vital contribution to the Second World War. Men of the Merchant Navy, including Brenda’s father Bill Hartley, crewed these small coastal vessels following the Allied convoys from 1940 onwards, with the sole purpose of rescuing survivors should any of the ships be torpedoed. It was a dangerous and difficult task but their actions succeeded in saving the lives of 4194 men throughout the Second World War.
The ships on all the convoys suffered high risks and terrible losses but there was one particular convoy route described by Churchill himself as:
“The worst journey in the world.”
Executive Director Education and Visitors, Carol Rogers, reflects on a recent study tour of Japan focusing on engagement with older people.
“I was delighted to be invited by the Baring Foundation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and British Council (Japan) to a week long study tour in Tokyo, with twelve fellow UK delegates. Our mutual connection is the pioneering work we have developed to enable creative experiences and opportunities for older people, such as House of Memories here in Liverpool. The tour aimed to link us with our counterparts (museums, galleries, universities, theatres, music providers and community settings) in Japan.
This blog post is the second in a series written by maritime historian and author J Kent Layton, the author of ‘Lusitania: an illustrated biography’, to accompany the exhibition Lusitania: life, loss, legacy:
“In order to propel the Lusitania at an unprecedented 25 knots, it was clear that something unique was going to be required in the design of her powerplant. Read more…