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42, then and now

22 May 2012 by Sam

portrait photo of a smiling woman

Copyright Lee Karen Stow

As her rather wonderful exhibition ’42’ Women of Sierra Leone closes in just two weeks on Tuesday 5 June, I asked photographer Lee Karen Stow for an update on the project.


“It’s been a little over a year since 42 opened at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, and what a year it’s been. The exhibition is a major platform for this very personal photographic documentary work on the lives of women in a country where life expectancy for them hovers around the mid-40s.

42 has also served as an inspiring tribute to the members of our grassroots Women with Cameras project in Sierra Leone. Slowly, and with many barriers to overcome, the women are using photography to earn incomes, advocate for change on issues which affect them, and explore creative expression. Photography is having a significant impact on their lives, and their growing and fascinating catalogue of images show what life is really like, on the ground, in this West African country. Read more…

Grace Brown

1 March 2012 by Alison

A lady sits with her fist in the air

A picture of Grace Brown taken in September 2011 © Lee Karen Stow

It is with great sadness that I tell you that Grace Brown, the head of the Sierra Leone women’s boxing team has passed away. She was 43.

Grace is featured in the exhibition ‘42’ Women of Sierra Leone at the International Slavery Museum, a display of work by photojournalist Lee Karen Stow. The exhibition documents the lives of women living in West Africa where women’s life expectancy is in the mid 40s.

Despite the obstacles, Grace and her female boxers had a dream of reaching London 2012 when, for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the ban on women’s amateur boxing will be lifted.

Sadly, and frustratingly, a lack of in-country sponsorship and support meant the women were not able to try for the early qualifying rounds in order to have a decent chance of reaching the Olympics.

At the same time, Grace fell seriously ill. She underwent a mastectomy and suffered a stroke. She became housebound, unable to train and box, and relied on the power of prayer to ease the pain.

In September 2011, Grace allowed Lee to photograph her, at her home, surrounded by her team mates (picture above). She raised a defiant fist and said quietly ‘Gold’, determined for her team one day to reach the Olympics and bring home the Gold medal.

Richard Benjamin, head of the International Slavery Museum says: Read more…

Fighting for change

14 February 2012 by Sam

photographer in her studio

Rebecca Kamara in her studio. Copyright Lee Karen Stow

Last year photographer Lee Karen Stow launched her exhibition ’42’ Women of Sierra Leone at the International Slavery Museum, with the help of her former student Rebecca Kamara, who is one of the 42 women featured in the exhibition. At the opening events Rebecca spoke about how the photography workshops that Lee taught in Sierra Leone have inspired her to earn a living as a photographer. She has faced huge challenges, as she lives in a rural village and didn’t even have any electricity at home until recently – something that photographers in the UK take for granted to charge camera batteries and run their computers!

Lee returned to Liverpool last week to add some new photos to her exhibition. Rebecca couldn’t join her this time, but Lee visited her in Sierra Leone in September and took the photograph above, which should bring a smile to the face of anyone who met her last year. As you can see, Rebecca has built her own photo studio, with help from UK and US donations and support, but also through her own photography business and photographic sales. She has now also set up a women’s photography group in the village. Read more…

Fighting for Gold

31 January 2012 by Sam

women boxers in Sierra Leone

Admire Mansaray, Sarah Johnson and Grace Brown of the Sierra Leone Women’s Boxing team in boxing stance. Copyright Lee Karen Stow

It’s all happening at the International Slavery Museum at the mo, with an exciting weekend ahead in the Docklands Extravaganza (keep an eye on the blog for more news about that soon). Hot on the heels of the announcement that the new Capoeira Club will start in March, Vikky Evans Hubbard has news of a great free talk next week: 


 The International Slavery Museum, Liverpool is currently hosting an exhibition called ’42’ Women of Sierra Leone by the photographer Lee Karen Stow. Lee has been photographing and championing the women of Sierra Leone for several years, forming strong friendships with many of them. The exhibition is called 42, not only because it  is made up of 42 portraits of women, but because the average life expectancy for a woman in Sierra Leone is just 42.  During her time there Lee encountered the Sierra Leone Women’s Boxing team and began not only photographing them, but a mission to get them recognised by the Sierra Leone sports council and into the 2012 Olympics. ‘Fighting for Gold’  are the photographs that came out of it.  For her next project she started to document women’s boxing in Hull. The  powerful photographs, ‘Girls in the Ring’ were the result. ‘Girls in the Ring’ features female boxers from across the clubs in Yorkshire, including Nicola Adams from Leeds, ranked third in the world and a London 2012 hopeful, and 82-year-old Barbara Buttrick, born in Cottingham in 1930, and who became the world’s first women’s professional boxing champion.  This project has been awarded the 2012 Inspire Mark. The London 2012 Inspire programme recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

‘Girls in the Ring’ is a photographic look at the growing number of amateur female boxers. Lee initiated the project around the time the International Olympic Committee made the decision to lift the ban on women’s boxing for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games.

The decision shows how far women’s boxing has come. According to the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) the number of registered female members (including boxers, coaches and officials) in the ABAE has risen from 50 in 2005 to 868 and there are approximately 16,000 females aged 16 years and over who participate in boxing in some form.
 
Lee will be talking about both projects at International Slavery Museum on Thursday 9 February, 5.30pm. This is a free event, please ring 0151 478 4456 to reserve a place. Read more…

50 years of independence

21 April 2011 by Alison

In March this year photographer Lee Karen Stow launched an exhibition of her work at the International Slavery Museum. The exhibition ‘42’ Women of Sierra Leone is a moving and powerful exhibition that explores the life of women in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

The exhibition is on display at the perfect time because 27 April 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of Sierra Leone’s independence after being under British colonial rule. To celebrate this landmark date Soroptimist International will hold an event at the International Slavery Museum on 27 April from 11am – 4pm. Read more…

Everyday should be Mother’s Day

1 April 2011 by Alison

The big day is approaching, the day when flower sales rocket and card shops are filled to capacity. That’s right it’s Mother’s Day, the one day in the year when we say thanks to our mums for generally being lovely.

But is one day enough perhaps everyday should be Mother’s Day? Especially in developing countries where women face serious health problems including death because of complications due to pregnancy and birth. As well as risking their own health, mothers in countries such as Sierra Leone face losing their children.  Read more…

Meet 1 of the ‘42’ Women

25 February 2011 by Alison

Next Thursday 3 March 2011 sees the official launch of photography exhibition 42’ Women of Sierra Leone at the International Slavery Museum. The exhibition of 42 colour photographs documents the lives of women of Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Members of the public are invited to attend the launch where there will be a special in-conversation event with photographer Lee Karen Stow and Rebecca Kamara, one of the women featured in the exhibition. Read more…

The woman I am

28 January 2011 by Sam

two women in colourful clothing looking at a camera

There’s a very exciting year ahead at the International Slavery Museum and yesterday I got to meet the women behind the venue’s latest project with the working title ‘The woman I am’.

The project is led by photo journalist Lee Karen Stow, whose exhibition ’42’ Women of Sierra Leone opens at the museum in March, to coincide with International Women’s Day. In addition to taking photographs herself, Lee has run a number of workshops in Sierra Leone and the UK, teaching women digital photography skills.

This week she has been working with the Liverpool Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) group on the photography workshops for ‘The woman I am’. The group have are hoping to exhibit the photographs they have taken in the new centre for the Women’s Organisation, which opens soon in the city. A selection of their photographs will also be featured on the ’42’ exhibition website. Read more…

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