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Refugee Week 2010

30 June 2010 by Sam

two women chatting over a cuppa

RefuTEA was one of this year’s Refugee Week events

Here’s an update from our head of communities Claire Benjamin about this year’s Refugee Week events and why they are so important:


“Refugee Week has once again been a highlight of the year for me, with a wonderful array of events and activities to raise awareness of refugees in our city, and welcome them to our museum. Our simple acts campaign was quite simply, just that. By finding out more about a new culture, cooking a cultural dish, smiling at a refugee or signing a petition, these simple acts can truly make a big difference.

The highlight for me was ‘By Reservation Only’ – a wonderful performance by a group of young refugees, whose acting skills were a talent worth seeing. What was even more impressive was the fact that they had learnt the script in English, which wasn’t even their first language. Truly inspirational, with such natural talent and ability on display, the show was hopefully an avenue for these young people to be like everybody else and have some normality and escapism. You can see photos from the performance in our Refugee Week 2010 set on Flickr. Read more…

Hub festival fun

9 June 2010 by Sam

Hub festival summer jam 2010 logo

Here’s a quick update from Finola Kelly, our Communities Creative Apprentice, on a fun weekend she had recently at the Hub festival – all in the name of important research for work, of course:


“On Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 May 2010 I went along to the HUB festival with members of the Communities team where we had our own National Museums Liverpool stall. The HUB Festival is a free festival that was held in Otterspool, Aigburth. The festival is for anyone to attend, with 10 bands each day playing on the main stage, break dancing, amazing BMX, skateboarding, graffiti boards with lots of artists to join in with and many more.

Our stall was to promote and gain information for the Museum Of Liverpool’s Creative City gallery. One activity was a ‘vote your fave scouser’ board. Everyone had a chance to stick a star in the column of their favourite scouser. These scousers were Kim Cattrall, Steven Gerrard, Paul McCartney, Jennifer Ellison, Colleen Rooney and John Bishop. We also had another board where people could write down why they think Liverpool was creative or special to them. Everyone’s comments were appreciated thank you! Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens: Winners

4 June 2010 by davidl

With China Through the lens of John Thomson 1868 – 1872 closing at Merseyside Maritime Museum this Sunday, our Liverpool’s Chinatown Through the lens Flickr competition has now also come to an end and it is time to reveal the winners.

We had a really interesting range of entries and exhibition curator and competition judge Betty Yao found it difficult to choose the winner from nearly 200 photos. However after much deliberation Betty chose three images, which have all also been blogged about over the course of the competition, with the overall winner being ‘Chinese New Year – People’ by Lee Carus, an image she says she ‘returned again and again to’ because ‘…there is so much there – capturing the people, the colours’. Congratulations to Lee, who wins a banquet meal for two at Yuet Ben.

The two lucky runners-up are Graham Morgan, whose enigmatic shot Betty praised ‘for capturing the moment’, and Mark McGowan, whose Chinese arch photo reminded her of two atmospheric images from the exhibition; of the pagoda reflected on the lake, and the hazy shot of a man standing by the River Min.

Congratulations to all our entrants, and one final reminder to visit the Maritime Museum this weekend for your last chance to see John Thomson’s fascinating images.

Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens: Closed!

24 May 2010 by davidl

The Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens photo competition has ended today, and there is a fantastic range of interesting photos in the competition pool on Flickr. Thanks to all those people who submitted photographs – the images make for fascinating browsing! The winner will receive a banquet for two at Yuet Ben, with two runners-up winning exhibition catalogues.

China Through the lens of John Thomson 1868-72 is only on at Merseyside Maritime Museum until 6 June, so get yourself down there and don’t miss this stunning exhibition.

The winner and runners-up will be announced shortly – watch this space! Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens: People

12 May 2010 by davidl

Complex and complicated are not quite the same thing, a distinction which I think is captured in this week’s highlight from our Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens Flickr competition, by Flickr user Lee Carus; the scene is busy with detail but not over-crowded, and carefully shot – the photographer waited patiently for some time before snapping this image.

Very colourful photo of people, flags and buildings

Chinese New Year – People © www.leecarus-photography.net

Quite a few different subjects that I have blogged about over the past few weeks appear here – the buildings in Chinatown, the crowds, the flags - but most prominent is the saturation in vivid colour. Practically no two areas use quite the same colour or hue, and the jostling of a brilliant orange jacket to a pearlescent green flag, shimmering gold surrounded by whites, pinks and blues, mirrors the heaving crowds.

Despite the level of detail, the composition is spacious: the cream buildings in the background and the smoke whiting-out the centre is effective in both throwing the more sharply defined foreground figures into relief and receding the background crowds and buildings, a depth enhanced by the stolid black railings to the right leading into the image. Also interesting is the fact that although the crowds are the ostensible subject, those figures in the background left comprise a fairly abstract mass of curves and shapes, the effect being like a painter suggesting a figure or object with a few simple flicks of a paintbrush - they become real as the viewer steps away. See the photo in a large size. Read more…

Graffiti In Our Museum!

6 May 2010 by Lucy

Finola Kelly, creative apprentice for National Museums Liverpool writes:

Over the past 8 weeks I have been involved in a project producing a piece of visual art to go on display in the Museum of Liverpool’sCreative City gallery, and it’s finally finished, wow! A group of young adults have taken part in creative sessions every Thursday to throw together designs and ideas and produce a graffiti masterpiece with help from freelance graffiti artist Andy Prior (Zap Graffiti) and assisted by members of our communities team. Read more…

Vibrant artwork at International Slavery Museum

29 April 2010 by Laura

Participants and artist with their work

Left to right: John Farrell, Kojo Darku, Ugo Eme, Linda Thompson and artist Carol Sorhaindo

Visitors to the International Slavery Museum will have noticed a colourful addition to the Legacy section of the museum. Our Cultural Apprentice, Finola Kelly tells us a bit more about it:


Since October a group from Mary Seacole House in Toxteth have been involved in a project with National Museums Liverpool, which included behind the scenes tours, curatorial talks and learning sessions.

The group made several visits to the International Slavery Museum over a number of weeks. Inspired by their trips the participants worked with artist, Carol Sorhaindo and staff from Mary Seacole House and the museum to bring their ideas to life. They selected objects or artifacts, which inspired them as a stimulus for their artwork. Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens: Old and Light

28 April 2010 by davidl

Older buildings have often outlived most of the people who set inside them, but their meaning and significance is usually defined by the way they are used by those same people. This week’s highlight from our Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens Flickr competition, by Flickr user diaryof70steen, is an attractive composition which, though it consists of two buildings and nothing else, says much about different cultures and communities over time.

19th-century stone building with Corinthian columns and dome beside a colourful Chinese arch

old and light © diaryof70steen

Visually the image creates a striking parallel between the vibrancy of the Chinese arch, its curved roofs and intricate patterns, and the stoic grandeur of the Black-E centre, with its magnificent dome and Corinthian columns. With a whited-out sky the many shapes and patterns of the buildings stand out crisply in an almost abstract way.

More than the architecture however, the photo tells of a long history of different Liverpudlian communities. The Black-E – taking its name from its smoke-stained stonework that was cleaned in the 1980s – combines a contemporary arts centre with a community centre (the UK’s first community arts project), and is based in the former Great George Street Chapel, which closed in 1967. This in turn had been the centre for a programme of artistic, educational and social welfare activities as well as worship, and was itself the second Chapel on the site, opening in 1841 after the 1811 original was destroyed by fire. It seems appropriate that a building so long the hub of many community activities is captured here next to a great symbol of Liverpool’s long-established Chinese community, itself also dating from the 19th century. See the photo in a large size. Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens: Masks

21 April 2010 by davidl

While holiday snaps are often intended to record a static memory of a place and mood - think of all those posed pictures of your family on the beach with fixed smiles - the more artistic photograph can often capture a whole narrative in a single image. I think in this week’s highlight from our Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens Flickr competition, by Flickr user Graham Morgan (greybeats), something of both approaches is captured.

Chinese New Year photograph with colourful Chinese dragon on the right and men wreathed in smoke on the left

Chinese New Year © Graham Morgan

More familiar as a writhing, twisting creature, the Chinese dragon here is seen as a massive, still block of colours, occupying the whole right side of the image: the lack of body makes it hard to imagine its full size, and it certainly looks like it is towering menacingly over the people on the left. However what is especially interesting about the dragon and the people are their positions and their masks: all of the figures are to some extent covering their faces and none appear to directly acknowledge the others; instead all are facing different directions in a curious, almost posed manner.

The viewer knows that there are really people inside the dragon, hidden under the costume - similarly the man in the foreground half-covers his face, presumably against smoke and noise, the figure behind is half-masked (or half-unmasked?), and those further back still are almost gone completely behind the smoke; everyone is only half-revealed, as though hovering between two personalities, or emerging from a chrysalis. Though it is Chinese New Year, it seems apt that this reminds me of the Roman god Janus (from whom we get the name January), often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions: back to the old year and forward to the new. This image captures that idea of uncertain but exciting transition, change and ambiguity. See the photo in a large size. Read more…

Liverpool’s Chinatown through the lens: Yellow Flag

7 April 2010 by davidl

Sometimes a minimalist approach can achieve dramatic effects: I think this is the case with this week’s highlight from the Liverpool’s Chinatown: Through the lens Flickr competition, by Flickr user Abi :) , in which a black and white photograph is tinted with a powerful yellow with captivating results.

Black and white photograph of a crowd and smoking firecrackers, with flag and other details picked out in yellow

Yellow Flag © Abi :)

I don’t know if the photographer chose yellow for a particular reason, but the symbolism of the colour in Chinese culture makes it an interesting choice. Yellow represents, amongst many other things, earth, the balance of yin and yang, and stability, making it an apt colour for a photo mostly comprised of shades of two opposites, black and white, and with so volatile a subject as smoking firecrackers.

Visually it is a very arresting colour to use, but though the flag draping dramatically on the left is one of the first things the eye is drawn to, there are spots of the colour discreetly added throughout the rest of the image – a coat or hat, the firecrackers, the sun-like decoration above the doorway - as though the warmth and joy of the colour is seeping into the pores of the photo.

There is more to the image than just this immediate colour element however. The flag and smoke make a neat vertical symmetry which frames the doorway in the background: the crowds and upstairs windows have a similar effect on the horizontal; this makes a complete frame which concentrates the gaze to the partially-obscured doorway, making it a subtle third subject for the viewer after the yellow flag and the firecrackers, which are the main focus of attention for the crowd. See the photo in a large size. Read more…