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Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?

23 April 2018 by Sarah

Abolition banner designed in the workshop

As part of our International Women’s Day and #Vote100 programme, our visitors worked with textiles artist Seleena Daye to create a banner celebrating inspiring female abolitionists who fought to end slavery.

In this blog, Seleena shares the processes she used to create the banner and more about the inspiring women who are featured.

“So much of what we read around slavery and the abolition of it is very male centric, so to sit down with a bunch of women of all ages and celebrate through a medium often deemed as ‘women’s work’ was a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“The reasons why each participant made the piece they did were so varied, from the felt portrait of Sojourner Truth, which was made as a personal challenge to the creator as it was something she had never done and didn’t think she could do. To the embroidered portrait of the Forten Sisters, which was chosen because the creator of that piece is herself 1 of 3 sisters? The Mary Prince piece was chosen because Mary Prince came from Bermuda, like the grandparents of another attendee. Even the piece including an afro comb has a connection both to the creator and to slavery, bringing up discussions around Black hair and the heritage of hairstyles, for example around cornrows being used by enslaved women who, rarely being allowed time or opportunity to do their hair, may have desired a style that would last.

“When bringing the contributions together into a finished piece, I added imagery of other women abolitionists such as Harriet Tubman and Ellen Craft and also explored ways in which people escaped from enslavement, through the Underground Railroad, quilt codes and navigating escape using constellations. There is the quilt code included in the banner, that meant ‘follow the North Star’ and the constellation in the centre is of The Big Dipper which features the North Star.

“In the banner’s corner are some dates, ‘1865 – 2018’, making reference to the date of abolition in the United States of America, and the words ‘Keep Fighting For Freedom’ sitting next to a portrait of Malala Yousafazi, who is a modern day female activist fighting for the freedom of young girls, pointing out that POC are still not truly free. In the opposite corner sits a square with bananas and a cotton plant, things we use today, that one time were picked by the hands of enslaved people, and in some cases still picked by people who don’t have basic human rights.

“I have also included coloured hessian within the banner to represent the goods being packed into hessian sacks, to indigo and African batik inspired fabrics that are a nod to the continent enslaved people were taken from, Africa. I hand dyed the centre piece fabric which was originally a pale blue cotton. I dyed one end green and the other midnight blue, signifying the huge journey many people took, from earth to the sky. The central image of the banner is a silhouette of a woman in shackles under the slogan ‘Am I not a woman and a sister’ which is inspired by abolition imagery used by campaigners at the time, but can also be a message that rings true today.

“It was such a pleasure to be able to create something so important amongst other women who stitched and spoke of solidarity and hardships and how far we’ve come and how far we still have yet to go.

We are women and sisters.”

 Our new female abolitionists banner is here at the International Slavery Museum within the Anthony Walker Education Centre.

This workshop was part of our Adult Creative Offer.

Chinese seafarers drop-in event at Maritime Museum

20 April 2018 by Andrew

Blue Funnel vessel, Cyclops

Recent visitors to the Merseyside Maritime Museum will have noticed works taking place on the second floor where we’re developing what will become the new Sea Galleries. As part of this work, we’re looking for help from the Liverpool public to help tell the stories of the city’s unique maritime communities. On 26 April there will be a drop-in afternoon focused on finding out more about Liverpool’s Chinese seafarers. Deputy Director and Curator of Maritime History, Ian Murphy, talks about how the gallery needs the input from one of Liverpool’s oldest communities.

Read more…

Centenary of Mersey ferries’ daring Zeebrugge raid

19 April 2018 by Jen

Black and white photograph of two Mersey ferries

The Mersey ferries Daffodil and Iris II at Dover soon after the vessels returned from the Zeebrugge Raid © IWM (Q 18888)

Anyone who’s looked out across the Mersey in the last couple of years has probably noticed the very colourful Mersey ferry Snowdrop in her fabulous dazzle-inspired livery. Designed by Peter Blake to mark the centenary of the First World War, it is reminiscent of the Dazzle camouflage used by thousands of ships in the conflict. If you step on board and visit the display co-curated by National Museums Liverpool you’ll discover that when the Mersey ferries played their own role in the war, their livery couldn’t have looked more different to the spectacular Dazzle. Read more…

Museum Dance Off – we need your votes!

18 April 2018 by Matt

Face in cut out

Museum of Liverpool’s Museum Dance Off entry 2018 was inspired by exhibition, Tales from the city.

The education team at the Museum of Liverpool have always held a secret talent for dance (honest!). Read more…

“He was a fine fellow”: Henry T Wilde and Titanic

17 April 2018 by Michelle

Henry T Wilde about 1900. Images are not to be reproduced without permission.

Sunday 15 April marked the anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic. At the time of her sinking she was the largest passenger ship in the world and the dramatic circumstances of her demise reverberated around the globe. In 1910 one ship in every 100 was lost, yet by 1912 technological advancements in shipbuilding led Titanic’s owners White Star Line to believe she was unsinkable.

This was not to be the case. Four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York she struck an iceberg south-east of Newfoundland, and sank two hours and forty minutes later with the loss of over 1500 lives.

The sinking of Titanic is as famous as it is tragic and as such the individual impact of the disaster can be overshadowed by the catastrophic nature of the event.

Last week I was able to re-display some of Chief Officer Henry Wilde’s personal effects in our exhibition Titanic and Liverpool: the untold story. On display are his White Star Line cap, a pair of epaulettes and three letters; two to his eldest daughter Jennie and one to his children’s nanny. We are very privileged and honoured to be able to display these items and I would like to share his story with you.  Read more…

Memories of Liverpool’s Royal School for the Blind

11 April 2018 by Laura

Fingers on braille

Braille plan of the Liverpool Blind School

With the exhibition The Blind School: Pioneering People and Places drawing to a close this week, History of Place Project Coordinator, Kerry  Massheder-Rigby tells us more about the next stage of the project:

“We are keen to capture additional first-hand memories of what life was like for students who attended the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool, the first of its kind in Britain when founded in 1791. Read more…

Looking back on back houses

6 April 2018 by Liz

Patchin Place, Greenwich Village, New York. ‘Court’ style houses filling a small side street area.

I was fortunate enough to make a research trip to New York recently, with my colleague Poppy Learman. This was supported by the Art Fund’s Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Research Grant, and the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place project.

We visited numerous heritage sites, archives and museums. One of the highlights for me was meeting staff at Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and discussed their work on New York’s back houses. The irregular street layout at the south tip of Manhattan, developed from the Dutch settlement street pattern, creates areas where courts and alleys developed, with some similarities to Liverpool court housing. A walking tour with Sarah Apmann enabled us to see examples of the Greenwich Village back housing. Read more…

The Qin terracotta warriors: a stunning discovery

29 March 2018 by Joe

On the anniversary of the discovery of the Terracotta Warriors in 1974, Senior Archaeologist Janice Li reveals more about the groundbreaking discoveries that followed:
Read more…

Of rights and resistance

28 March 2018 by Stef

Typeface and poster created by 3rd year student Tom Appleton that relates to the student gun protests in the USA

Typeface and poster created by 3rd year student Tom Appleton that relates to the student gun protests in the USA

To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr, International Slavery Museum are hosting a two week public display of graphic design and illustration created by students and staff at Liverpool John Moores University in response to the museum’s civil rights and legacies of slavery collections.

Graphic Arts students Tom Appleton and Vicki Hesketh discuss the development of the project and what we can expect to see in their public display Of rights and resistance. 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.