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13 December 2018 by Sarah

Our ‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’ painting has been shortlisted for Art Fund Wok of the Year 2018. Shown here as it was acquired, and before conservation work. Image courtesy of National Museums Liverpool.

Fantastic news! Our new painting ‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’ at the International Slavery Museum is on the shortlist of 10 works to be Art Fund Work of the Year 2018.

The annual poll aims to find the public’s favourite Art Funded work of the year, and to celebrate a year of helping museums and galleries acquire great art. You can help and support us by voting!

‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’ is a significant acquisition for the Museum- and the UK.

It is the first painting in our collection to show the powerful and resonant iconography of abolition. The artwork dates from around 1800 and the artist is unknown. The foot of the canvas reads, ‘Am Not I a Man and a Brother’, a variation on the more common version, ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother’.

The painting’s dominant motif is that of an enslaved African, kneeling, bound in chains and set against the backdrop of a Caribbean sugar plantation. This is based on a design commissioned by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade on 5 July 1787, which is considered to be one of the first instances of a symbol designed for a political cause and was used famously by the potter Josiah Wedgwood.

It is only the second known painting to exist featuring this motif – the only other being ‘The Kneeling Slave’ at the Wilberforce House Museum in Hull.

The painting is currently undergoing cleaning and restoration. Here you can see Senior Painting Conservator, David Crombie starting off that process.

As the abolitionist movement gained popular support, the motif was widely used for decorating men’s snuff boxes, ladies’ bracelets and hair pins, as well as household objects including milk jugs, sugar bowls and tobacco boxes.

Further enslaved people raise axes to the sugar cane in the background of the painting.

Curator Stephen Carl-Lokko, who made the acquisition, said:

“We’re so pleased to have been shortlisted for Art Fund Work of the Year 2018.

“This is a significant acquisition for the UK. While the image became an important symbol of the abolitionist movement, it also touches on the historical representation of enslaved Africans.

Look at the top left of the painting: you can already see how different it’s going to look after conservation. The painting is expected to go on display at the International Slavery Museum in Spring 2019.

“Although the image was designed to appeal to the sympathies of the British public in identifying with the cause of abolition, it also reflects the misconception of enslaved Africans as passive acceptors of their fate.

“In fact the opposite was true, enslaved Africans were the main instigators in their fight for freedom, with Black abolitionists such as Olaudah Equiano, Ottobah Cugoano and Mary Prince actively campaigning as part of the British abolitionist movement.

“We address this and put this into context for our modern audience and hopefully we can start a discussion with our visitors when they see this painting about the historical representation of Black people within art.”

The acquisition was made possible through a generous grant award by the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures programme.

All those who vote for their favourite artwork will be entered into a free prize draw, with the chance of winning a lifetime National Art Pass worth £1,850. Vote here for your favourite in the shortlist until 5pm on Saturday 15 December 2018.

 

A Social Evil, victims or scapegoats?

13 December 2018 by Liz

This research was spurred by looking into Pembroke Place’s past for the Galkoff’s & Secret Life of Pembroke Place exhibition

Today we have a guest blog from Susan Bennett, who has been researching Victorian brothels to explore the ‘little hell’ underworld in the late C19th as part of the Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place project. This is a difficult subject, and original Victorian documents and records can be very blunt!

“Between 1837 and 1901 Liverpool expanded massively to become one of the greatest ports in the world. Every day thousands of sailors, just paid off, eager for physical outlets after hard months at sea, poured onto the streets looking for women, drink and other vicious practices such as fist fighting and gambling – the Social Evil! An east wind could carry off between 10 – 15,000 sailors a day on ships from the port and a westerly wind cast that same number ashore with full pockets and much energy, “to do what men do naturally”, as a newspaper report gamely put it. The police force, newly recreated in 1836 with 390 men rising to a peak of 1,002 in 1859, struggled desperately to keep on top of the ensuing vice, violence, and crime. Read more…

Get festive this Christmas at National Museums Liverpool

13 December 2018 by Megan

Tis the season to be jolly and here at National Museums Liverpool we have a whole host of festive activities that’ll appeal to everyone.

Santa is back at the Museum of Liverpool. The giant Blacklers Santa is on display in the Atrium for all visitors to see. Once you’ve seen Santa and told him your Christmas list for this year, head up and see the Education team who are showing how Christmas was celebrated over 1,000 years ago. Find out some of the ancient and interesting roots of many Christmas traditions.

Over on the Wirral at the Lady Lever Art Gallery we have a wonderful exhibition celebrating a unique, artistic partnership between illustrator Quentin Blake and children’s author John Yeoman, this exhibition will showcase more than 40 Quentin Blake works, including the beautiful illustrations featured in Yeoman’s magical storybooks.

If you’re in the city centre and would like some stories, the Walker Art Gallery have them. Once upon a time… In a magical place called Big Art, tales of wondrous lands, enchanted kingdoms and mythical characters can be found. Come along for fairy tales, traditional stories and family favourites.

Many Christmas traditions as we know them today were invented by the Victorians. Join the staff at Sudley House for an afternoon of Victorian themed Christmas crafts (15 December) and activities, including making your own Victorian Christmas card to take away or send to a loved one.

Get creative at the Merseyside Maritime Museum with some crafts. Make and decorate your own crafts using the collections for inspiration.

Heading into the New Year we are making badges at Seized! Get thinking of that New Year’s resolution, dream or goal and design your own badge to take away with you (28 & 29 December).

Our delicious range of festive savouries and cakes are back by popular demand for 2018! Fans of our freshly-made sandwiches, rolls and paninis will be keen to try our Christmas creations this year,

Find the perfect Christmas gift online or in venues, with a wide variety of coasters, prints, mugs and nostalgia gifts to suit everybody.

Every purchase supports National Museums Liverpool.

Find out more about Christmas at National Museums Liverpool here

 

UK’s 2nd Female BAME Stunt Actor : Shaina West aka The Samurider

12 December 2018 by Sarah

Images: Steve Brown Creative

Shaina West is a real life superhero, with a backstory to rival an Avenger and an alter ego fighting to change the stigma around Black women on screen. In this guest blog, Shaina explains how she overcame the adversity of a road accident to reinvent herself as a pioneering stunt actor and the anime-inspired Instagram star: The Samurider:

“The choice to become a stunt actor was not a particularly hard one, I feel like through minimal shaping of my own, my life led me towards it – it’s been an incredible ride! It all started when I was 20 and the unthinkable happened. I was in a terrible motorbike accident. It left me stranded in hospital for weeks with a fractured neck and broken thumb. My boyfriend of the time broke up with me and I lost my job. A series of unfortunate events indeed!

“All that I was left with was a passion for Japanese culture including anime. I spent all of my time with these strong characters who could perform amazing feats and solve their problems through the physical actions of their bodies, I was inspired. I got out of my casts and back into the gym, and on my 21st birthday I got a tattoo which would remind me to be strong, do what I love and fight for what I believe in. It was from that day that I decided to teach myself martial arts and, in spirit, be like the anime characters that made me want to feel… heroic. And thus, ‘The Samurider’ was born.

Images: Steve Brown Creative

“Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of hard work; I didn’t learn any of the complex and physically demanding moves overnight. Weapon usage, again took immense research and practice just to work out which was the pointy end and which the handle! But hard work and dedication are not just words people throw out to make you feel bad. I had to train, research, train some more, practice, train again. Hard work and perseverance are essential to achieving anything. And it’s totally worth it! There is nothing like the feeling of finally mastering a flip with a sword or staff!

“For me, this is just the beginning for becoming a stunt actor and stunt choreographer. I want to be the TV role-model for the new generations that I never had as a child; a strong, fierce, relentless, extraordinary, untypical black woman who can do whatever she wants and needs. This is why I feel so strongly about wearing my hair in an afro when I perform. For so long black women have been taught to be ashamed of their natural hair texture; I’m fighting to change the stigma around black women. We do not need to conform to Eurocentric standards of beauty. We need to accept that everyone is beautiful, all women are goddesses.

Images: Steve Brown Creative

“I have since worked with Disney, been involved with Star Wars, given performances and demonstrations at ACCESS ACTION: STUNTS, the first ever BAME stunt workshop and much more! Being a black stunt actor in a heavily euro-centric industry has been an eye opening experience and one day I hope to have my own TV show so that I can help get more BAME stunt actors the exposure they deserve, especially in this industry – where black actors (usually the sidekicks or villainous characters) are being represented by white stunt actors! Watch this space!”

Contact details: @TheSamurider. For more information, images or interviews, please contact: diana.young@wesocialis.com.

For those interested in learning more about creative people of colour in digital arts, don’t miss Root-ed Zine’s inspiring workshop at the International Slavery Museum this weekend exploring moving image, photography and animation, and much more. Root-ed Zine Art Group Crit takes place 1-3pm on Saturday, 15 December. Book your free place on Eventbrite.

 

At the Cutting Edge, with Edge Conservation

8 December 2018 by Liz

Today we have a guest blog from Anna Dembicka, who has worked on the Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place project as an ICON Ceramics Intern. Anna’s detailed work on the tiles with the Edge Conservation team has brought them back to beautiful condition for display in the People’s Republic gallery at the Museum of Liverpool.

Galkoff shop before tile removal

‘There are few people in Liverpool who don’t immediately recognize the green façade of the tiled Galkoff Kosher butcher’s shop. Having travelled past it on my way to university every day, I often thought about what its history and its future fate might be. But it never crossed my mind then that a few years later I would have the privilege of helping to restore it to its former glory Read more…

Don’t be fooled by fakes this Christmas!

7 December 2018 by Lisa Middleton

make up with 'Fake' stamped over the image

As the festive shopping frenzy continues, staff at the Seized! gallery are warning people not to be fooled by fakes.

The Seized! gallery – based in the Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool – includes fakes that have been seized by the Border Force, from lice-infested make up brushes to rubbish electricals, fake goods are not the presents you want this Christmas.

The lure of fake goods is that they’re often cheaper. They’re invariably made to look like the real thing, but in the case of electronics, they won’t contain the same parts or be built to EU safety standards, which can be dangerous. Read more…

Pleasure Gardens Past

5 December 2018 by Liz

Today we have a guest blog from Rebecca Metcalfe, a volunteer working on the Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Rebecca has been researching historical open spaces in Liverpool, and discovered a lot about Ranelagh Gardens Read more…

Graffitiology

3 December 2018 by Vanessa

Museum of Liverpool archaeologists and Lister Steps volunteers taking part in graffiti recording.

Recently the archaeology team have been working in partnership with Lister Steps; a community based childcare charity based in Tuebrook. We are exploring the history of The Old Library on Lister Drive, which is currently being renovated into a community hub by Lister Steps with support from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Volunteers and archaeology staff have been using the modern graffiti at the rear of the building to learn archaeological skills and building recording techniques. By setting up a string and using measuring tapes our volunteers were able to accurately plot the graffiti using the same techniques which are used to draw an archaeological section.  Read more…

Vote for women in our advent calendar!

29 November 2018 by Sam

illustration of a wintery scene including Liverpool landmarks

Each December we count down the days to Christmas with the National Museums Liverpool advent calendar. There’s a different surprise from our collections and exhibitions behind each door, with a new theme each year. Throughout 2018 we have been involved with a number of special events in our museums and across the city of Liverpool to mark 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women over the age of 30 the right to vote for the first time. So to celebrate the end of this significant year, we felt that a fitting theme for this year’s advent calendar would be women.

Naturally, I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises hidden behind the doors on the advent calendar, but I can tell you that there are some remarkable stories of a variety of pioneering women from across the ages, including scientists, artists and trailblazers, both from Liverpool and further afield. There will be names that you know and some that you are less familiar with, including a few surprises from our stores and archives which are not usually on display.

So don’t forget to open our advent calendar at www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/advent each day from 1 to 24 December.

If you can’t wait until December to find out about some of the inspiring women in our collections, then you can always visit the Taking liberties: women’s suffrage in Liverpool display at the Museum of Liverpool (don’t worry – it doesn’t contain any spoilers, we have plenty of other great stories to share with you!) Or take a look at the Christmas pages on our website for details of our free events, opening hours over the holidays, Christmas dining, gift ideas and more to get you in the festive spirit.

The Art of Butchery

26 November 2018 by Liz

Drawing of the P. Galkoff shop by his great great Gandson, Ilan Galkoff

Today we have a guest blog from Ilan Galkoff, great great grandson of Percy Galkoff, the butcher whose shopfront we have moved to the Museum of Liverpool as part of the Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place project with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

‘I wanted to write a few words about how I came to create this piece of art depicting Galkoff’s Butcher shop. I’m Percy’s great, great grandson and I’m currently 15 years old. Read more…



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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.