On Saturday 5 November we bid a fond farewell to Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity, our groundbreaking exhibition featuring artworks by David Hockney, Steve McQueen, Anya Gallaccio and Sarah Lucas among many others.
The artists represented have used their work to explore sexuality and gender identity since 1967, after the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, which marked the partial decriminalisation of male homosexual acts in England and Wales. Read more…
Today we have a guest blog by Peter Banasko. He is writing about his father, also called Peter Banasko – a Liverpool lad who became a world-class boxer and was asked to fight before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale. He later became an incredibly successful coach and manager. However, Peter also grew up during the era of the Colour Bar and this blog highlights the prejudices he faced. It is a fascinating local and community history and we wanted to run it during Black History Month. With thanks to the Banasko family for submitting it to us:
Peter Emmanuel Banasko 1915-1993
“Peter Banasko was born and grew up in Liverpool. He was the only child of a mixed marriage. His father, Isaac Immanuel Banasko came from the Gold Coast, Ghana. His mother Lillian Banasko, nee Doyle, came from Liverpool.
“He was named in the birthday celebration of 800 people who put Liverpool on the map. (Liverpool Echo 28/08/2007)
“He attended St. Malachy’s School and started his amateur boxing in 1929 at the famous St. Malachy’s boxing gym. By the time he was 14 he had participated in over 100 fights. At the age of 13, having over 40 undefeated contests to his credit, he claimed the distinction of being the first Liverpool boxer to bring home to Liverpool a British Title by becoming the schoolboy champion of Great Britain in 1929 and again in 1930.
“He was invited to box before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale.
“At 17 he turned professional under the management of the Liverpool Stadium Promoter, Johnny Best Senior.
“Some said he was the best of the best but unfortunately for Banasko he fought during the era of the infamous ‘Colour Bar’ that forbade any non-white fighter from contesting for a national title. Again this vicious prejudice was evidenced in his marriage to Margaret McNerney, a Liverpool girl. A 300 signature petition was actioned to try and stop this marriage; it was unsuccessful.
“He was the first black manager/trainer in Liverpool, indeed in the UK. He was a friend of Douglas Collister (United Africa Co.) and also Jack Farnsworth (British West Africa CO). Because of this by the early 1950s Banasko and Liverpool were a household names in Lagos.
“His reputation as an excellent manager spread to the Gold Coast.
“According to the boxing purists at that time the black boxers fought in a distinct ‘unscientific’ style; they failed to master ‘the noble art’. However, their performances in the ring soon shattered these stereotypes. Banasko was a contributing factor in this change of opinion. When opposing boxers where facing the ‘Banasko camp’ it was not the boxer they feared but Banasko because of his knowledge and expertise.
“Banasko gained the rank of sergeant with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. His request for a commission was turned down. He was advised he would stand a better chance of a commission if he joined the Indian Army!
“This prejudice came up again when Hogan Kid Bassey won the British Empire Featherweight title. He told Banasko in the dressing room after the fight that he wanted a change of manager. Bassey had been convinced that he would not get any further in his career under a black manager. Banasko, disgusted with this prejudice and gutted by Bassey’s disloyalty, parted from the sport he loved.
“Ian Hargraves in his article in the Liverpool Echo (November 30th 1993) ‘Salute to boxing’s unsung hero’ on his death in November 1993 summed it up completely by stating:
Peter Banasko… a rare talent – one of the true greats’ “.
If you enjoyed this blog, you might be interested in our Black History Month events throughout October.
Have you seen the Timalle artwork in our Ink and blood; Stories of abolition exhibition yet? It features draft reparations forms and is a re-enactment, through sculpture and performance, of the enslavement process. It is the first time this piece of contemporary art has been displayed in Europe. Come and see it for yourself at the International Slavery Museum. Or you can also watch an extract of Timalle film, by Francois Piquet, and listen to him blogging about why he created his artwork, and what it means: Read more…
It’s that time of year again and a chill caused by more than just autumn winds is upon us. Halloween is bearing down fast with its usual accompaniment of pumpkins, ghosts, and of course witches! The ship model you can see here may look fairly innocuous but this is the Royal Naval Destroyer HMS Witch and it’s rigged with real human hair! Read more…
We’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of the John Moores Painting Prize in 2018 with something very special. For the first time, the winner of the competition’s first prize will be offered a solo show at the Walker Art Gallery, as well as the £25,000 cash prize and a three month fellowship at Liverpool John Moores University.
This summer I was fortunate to meet Marilyn Young, when she made her second visit to Liverpool. Marilyn is an independent researcher from the US, whose interest in Black diasporic communities has taken her all over the world.
In this guest blog, Marilyn describes how retracing cities along the Atlantic has led to her personal Sankofa journey.
“I was born in the state of Alabama so naturally I’m familiar with the topic of the transatlantic slave trade. But visiting Liverpool for the first time 10 years ago struck me and in many ways started my Sankofa journey.
I saw what my ancestors experienced from another side of the Atlantic and this piqued my interest to dig deeper. Read more…
A new display at Museum of Liverpool marks the first anniversary of the death of Herbert Howe, award winning hairdresser, radio show host, reality TV star, charity fundraiser, actor and even pantomime dame! Linda McDermott, Presenter of Late Night Live, BBC Radio Merseyside and one of Herbert’s closest friends, tells us more about this Liverpool legend: Read more…