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Breaking boundaries

8 March 2010 by Richard

old photo of a man in cricket whites by the sign for an RAF base

Conrad Benjamin, RAF Steamer Point

Hello.

I am pleased to report that the February visitor figures for the International Slavery Museum were extremely good and we are now very close to receiving our millionth visitor. A fantastic achievement considering we have only been open since 2007. 

We are always looking to enhance the visitor experience and this can often mean covering sensitive and challenging issues. An example is Missing (2007) by the artist Rachel Wilberforce, a series of photographs of urban and suburban Britain which depict sex-trafficking and prostitution through the interiors and exteriors of brothels and so-called massage parlours. This newly acquired part of our contemporary slavery collection is now on display. Rachel will be giving a public lecture about her work on Wednesday 10 March 6-8pm at the Merseyside Maritime Museum as part of International Women’s Week. Check the International Women’s Day events page for further details.

The very successful Black Britannia exhibition has now ended and we are eagerly awaiting our new cricket based exhibition Beyond the Boundary to be installed.  The exhibition explores the relationship between cricket, culture, class and politics. There is a strong South African element to the exhibition, not just because all eyes will be on South Africa for the World Cup but because we have been working closely with Dr June Bam-Hutchison, museum consultant, community development strategist and a South African national herself. June has brought a wealth of personal and professional knowledge to the table and we are delighted she has been involved.  

Not only was I keen to develop this exhibition due to the fact that the subject fit well with the museum but I have to admit I am a keen cricket fan and was excited at the prospect of a cricket based exhibition. My love of the game came from my father, a great bat as they say (and not a bad slip fielder too!) who was born in then British Guiana (now Guyana) and was used to playing on the fast and hard surfaces of Caribbean pitches when he came to the UK in the 1950s. He joined the RAF and continued to play the game with great success. He in fact played well into his sixties and I was fortunate enough to play in the same team for a number of years.

As a Yorkshireman I of course follow Yorkshire CC who when I was born still had the rule that you had to be born within the county boundaries to be eligible to play for them. Alas, even though I fulfilled this criterion I was never good enough to play at that level. I was also brought up as an avid West Indies fan. There was no choice in the Benjamin household and I always remember my father sat next to the radio listening to the national institution that is Test Match Special. The Windies were a great force when I was growing up in the 1980s and got the better of England on a number of occasions, most famously the ‘Blackwash’ series of 1984. I won’t tell you anymore, go and see the exhibition for yourself.  

Bye for now

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