Refugee Week, founded in 1998 “as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers”, is marking its 20th anniversary this week, and one of the 20 Simple Acts they have asked people to consider doing this year is spread the word.
Sadly the hostility that inspired this campaign in 1998 is still present and their work is as important as ever. I believe that it is harder to be hostile towards someone once we begin to empathise with them, and as human beings we often empathise most easily with people when we realise they are like ourselves. In keeping with that idea I want to talk about Britain’s own child refugees. Read more…
I am pleased to announce the addition of three new achievers to the Museum’s Black Achievers Wall. This popular exhibit celebrates the many different forms of achievement by people of African descent. The connection is that to reach their goals, to achieve in their field, they have in their own way broken barriers, put their heads above the parapet, taken risks, led the way. They have and do inspire.
The three new additions were nominated by Uniglobal members, a global trade union representing 20 million working people in 13 sectors of work around the world, with whom we work closely. We proudly celebrate our Black Achievers:
Bernie Grant MP, 1944-2000
Born in British Guiana (now Guyana), a trade unionist who became Leader of Haringey Council in 1985, the first Black person to hold such a role in Europe. Elected in 1987 as MP for Tottenham, he was an outspoken advocate for his community, and for righting the historic wrongs arising from colonisation and enslavement.
Gloria Mills, born 1958
One of Britain’s leading trade unionists, Gloria Mills has campaigned vigorouslyagainst all forms of discrimination. She was the first Black woman to serve as President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Her pioneering work on equality and employment rights has helped change the agenda, structure and culture of trade unions in the UK and beyond.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, born 1963
A past president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) North Carolina state chapter. Rev. Barber is a committed campaigner for the rights of African Americans, the poor and other marginalised groups within the US. In 2017, he launched the Poor People’s Campaign for justice, love and equality.
1966 was a good year for football on Merseyside….oh, and for England too! When the World Cup was held in this country in July that year, Liverpool had just won the League and Everton the FA Cup.
In the museum’s collections we have a number of items which relate to World Cup matches played at Goodison Park, including match tickets, a visitor guide to the city for fans, an invite and menu from a special luncheon given by The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Liverpool on the occasion of the semi-final of the World Cup at the Town Hall, Liverpool City Transport tickets for overseas visitors and spectator notices.
Tickets from the five games held at Goodison Park were recently kindly donated by Jack Mulvey, an Everton fan. He tells us more – Read more…
This weekend marks the Chinese holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival, an ancient celebration where boats are decorated in the form of dragons and raced in towns and cities across the country. To commemorate the festivities, we are exploring some of the dragon-themed objects on display in our landmark exhibition, China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors.
For a curator the best part of any exhibition, is the first time you properly look at the objects. This is a time when you can make discoveries and investigate objects beyond their normal scope. When I first began work on the Whistler & Pennell: Etching the City exhibition, Keith our paper conservator analysed the condition of the prints. In doing so, he noticed a wonderful watermark on the paper used for James McNeill Whistler’s prints (1834-1903). It is a beautiful design with a central beehive motif surrounded by ornate scrollwork of leaves and flowers crowned with a fruit tree. It also shows the initials DEDB. I immediately wanted to learn more about where this paper came from and why it was used for Whistler’s prints so I could include it in the exhibition and share it with our visitors. This is what I found!
Apparently Whistler was very selective about what paper was used for his etchings. This wasn’t at all unusual; the etching revival had instigated a new interest in the aesthetic tone and structure of paper. Modern paper made in the early 19th century could be highly acidic and appear bright white after the introduction of wood pulp and chlorine bleaches into the paper-making process. Laid paper was also gradually replaced with wove paper which had a more even surface. Whistler, and indeed most printers, refused to use such paper as it affected the overall tone and aesthetic of the work. The modern paper created too much of a contrast between the inks and the white background. Also wove paper did not hold the ink in the same way as laid paper.
Following Rembrandt’s example, Whistler like most etchers’ and printers preferred to use ‘Old Dutch’ or silky Japanese paper. Throughout his life Whistler constantly searched stationers and old book shops looking for it, as large quantities could still be found in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Made from boiled and beaten rags, drained on wire moulds, ‘Old Dutch’ paper was high quality with a ribbed texture and creamy in colour. Japanese paper was alternatively made from the bark of a mulberry tree; it could vary in thickness and tone from pale cream to a pronounced yellow. These types of paper could be identified by their unique watermark.
A watermark is design or motif that is caused by thickness variations created by the wire mould when shaping the paper. The ‘beehive’ watermark that we found on Whistler’s print’s, shown in transmitted light, is not the mark of ‘Old Dutch’ papermakers as I originally thought, but it can be traced to Holland.
The ‘beehive’ watermark is associated with the Honig (honey) family of Dutch papermakers who owned mills in Zaandijk, North Holland. The coat of arms was widely copied throughout the Netherlands and came to represent Dutch papermaking more generally. Whistler’s ‘beehive’ watermark is a variation belonging to the De Erven de Blauw papermakers from the 1820s, which explains the initials DEDB within the design (there were alternate versions of the De Erven de Blauw watermark also shown)
We would have never known that these watermarks existed on the Walker Art gallery’s prints before as they are not visible under normal lighting conditions, it was crucial to photograph our findings through transmitted light to document the work. This research and photographs of all the prints which contain the watermark are permanently available for everyone to view on Watermark, our online collection of works on paper.
The Walker Art Gallery’s painting collection spans a broad spectrum of work from the Renaissance to the modern era. It includes artwork made in an engaging variety of contrasting styles, from the refined tempera paintings of the early Renaissance to the painterly, expressive brushwork and bold colour of the Impressionist era, to abstraction and beyond. Taken together, the collection illustrates the development in painting technique over eight centuries of artistic practice.
My research for the Whistler & Pennell: Etching the City exhibition at the Lady Lever Art Gallery uncovered some really interesting information about James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and his connection to Liverpool and Lancashire area. Read more…
The International Slavery Museum’s Young Ambassadors team have been working in partnership with Scalarama Liverpool (https://scalarama.com/liverpool/) to explore issues of representation in the film industry and what can be done to challenge this. We invited our Ambassadors group to host their own film event in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr building including a post film discussion. Here, ISM Ambassador Rebecca Crossland talks about what visitors can expect at the event. Read more…