Blog

Black Blossoms exhibition in Liverpool

19 September 2017 by Mitty

traditional African design of a Sankofa bird

One of a series of carved laser cut panels based on the Ashanti Adinkra symbols by Artist Merissa Hylton

About a month ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bee Tajudeen and Cynthia Silveria when they were up visiting Liverpool and popped into the International Slavery Museum. Bee is the founder of Black Blossoms, she and tell us about the organisation and their incredible exhibition which is on until 30 September in the Royal Standard in Liverpool. Artist Merrissa Hylton also talks about her work which is featured as part of the display.

Black Blossoms, an organisation which aims to amplify the voices of Black women in the creative industries, have begun their art exhibition tour across the UK. Their first location is The Royal Standard Gallery in Liverpool. The exhibition explores socio-political issues, feminism and self love from the perspective of self identifying Black women artists, living in Britain in 2017.

The group exhibition, initiated by a call out for work, includes ‘Narratives’ from  Merissa Hylton. Her work is inspired by the connection, particularly that of the Maroons of Jamaica and their West African ancestors and heritage. A lot of her work focuses, in particular, on the relationship between Jamaican and Ghanaian heritage and traditional art.

Merissa explains the ‘Narrative’ series and the importance of symbols and meanings to African and Caribbean communities:

Gye Nyame – Adinkra symbol laser cut by artist Merissa Hylton

“The ‘Narratives’ collection is a set of carved laser cut panels based on the Ashanti Adinkra symbols. Many of these symbols can be found across the Caribbean, but many people do not know, or realise the history behind them. Read more…

Tell your own story at our ‘how to archive’ workshop

12 September 2017 by Mitty

family photograph

Rare picture that all of my siblings and both parents are in as one of us would usually be taking the picture. I still can’t keep my eyes open in pictures!

Heritage consultant Heather Roberts will be leading our Tell your story- How to archive workshop on Saturday – the latest of our fantastic free Sankofa project events. You can book your place by following the link here.

Heather tells us about some of the really interesting work she’s been doing in Manchester to support communities uncovering their own hidden histories:

“On the Hidden Histories, Hidden Historians project with Manchester Histories, I am working with five community groups on a wonderful archive project. I am guiding them through the process of finding, valuing and displaying their history.

One such organisation is Oldham Youth Council. They wish to reveal the heritage and histories hidden in their members’ families to highlight how diversity makes for stronger teams with shared goals. Read more…

Slavery Remembrance Day 2017: 18 and counting

22 August 2017 by Richard

Gee Walker (centre, purple jacket) on the 2013 Walk of Remembrance

This year from the 22 – 23 August the International Slavery Museum will be leading on the city’s 18th Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations during our 10th anniversary. This has become a key date not only in the calendar of the Museum, but nationally, with people coming from around the UK to engage with a series of contemplative, commemorative and celebratory events. On Tuesday 22nd the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. building will host the Dorothy Kuya Slavery Remembrance Lecture, named in honour of a friend of the Museum, tireless anti-slavery campaigner and historian who sadly passed in 2013.

The keynote speaker at our annual event is someone who focuses on a historical theme, and possibly challenge often accepted narratives of history, in a constructive and inspiring way or someone who like the Museum campaigns against issues of social injustices. That is why this years speaker, Dr Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation and mother to Anthony, a young Black man brutally murdered in a racist attack in 2005 is an ideal speaker. I know Gee personally and it is quite extraordinary that her heart is not filled with hate but hope. It is therefore an honour to act as a trustee of the Anthony Walker Foundation that aims to promote racial harmony through education, sport and the arts, promoting the celebration of diversity and personal integrity and the realisation of potential of all young people

I am looking forward to hearing Gee talk about Anthony and her work and her daughters Dominique and Stephanie who have been integral to the work of the Foundation and championing hate crime reporting in the city. Dominique once made one of the most moving statements I have heard in my role when she described the Anthony Walker Education Centre located within the Museum as “My brother’s room”. This showed how important our work is. Dominique and Stephanie will be part of a Q & A chaired by BBC Radio Merseyside Producer and Presenter Ngunan Adamu.

We have many free events over the two days but one of the most important is the libation ceremony which remembers and pays homage to the ancestors, many taken from their families, friends and homelands in Africa as part of the barbarous transatlantic slave trade that helped build many cities such as Liverpool. I hope you can join us.

Richard

See the full programme of all our Slavery Remembrance Day events here.

We are 10

18 August 2017 by Richard

International Slavery Museum 10th anniversary logologo

The International Slavery Museum is 10. We have had such a journey, done so many things, and met so many people; been involved in controversies, and literally changed people’s lives. So how do you write a blog about all that? Well it’s difficult, so let me take you back to 2008 when we launched our 1st anniversary exhibition rather unsurprisingly titled We Are One. As part of the introduction text I wrote the following:

Integral to the Museum’s interpretation of the story of transatlantic slavery is a belief that Africans, despite their oppression, were the main agents of their own liberation. We hope we represent their stories faithfully. The Museum also sees itself as an active campaigner against racism and discrimination today, and we work closely with a number of human rights organisations. Our Education Centre is named in memory of Anthony Walker, the Black Liverpool teenager who was murdered in 2005…We hope you have been inspired positively by your visit today.

International Slavery Museum’s ‘We Are One’ school logo

I believe we have been faithful to those words in our first 10 years because I, and our small dedicated team, have continually strived for that. I remember meeting Presidents, famous personalities, speaking at UNESCO in Paris and the UN in New York.

I am proud of our partnerships with NGOs and human rights organisations such as Anti-Slavery International, I am proud and honoured to know and work with people like Gee Walker, founder of the Anthony Walker Foundation, and mother of Anthony, I am proud to have made close friendships with many members of the Liverpool Black community, some critical friends, but all who believe in what we do and have supported us on our journey; the late Dorothy Kuya, Eric Lynch, Dr Ray Costello, Councilor Anna Rothery, Michelle Charters and many other historians, activists and community figures, they know who they are. The list of our work and achievements is long, diverse, and powerful.

Blog author, Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum (c) Dave Jones

At the heart of our Museum are real people working conscientiously within a difficult area whilst actively fighting the legacies of transatlantic slavery too. This is not easy, not many museums do it, and so I say to all the people who read this blog who have not visited the Museum to do so, and to keep up to date with our plans, such as opening the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. building, the iconic building on the Albert Dock, as part of the Museum. Not everyone agrees with what we do, or how we do it but one thing I do know, if the Museum is not here in 10 years time the city and this country will be a worse place for it. So please, join us on our journey and in the words of the great Curtis Mayfield “Keep On, Keepin’ On”.

Read about all our special 10th anniversary events here

Zine Queen blogs on Saturday’s free workshop

2 August 2017 by Sarah

 

This Saturday (5 August), come and explore self-publishing as a creative method of activism in our free workshop on zine-making! Inspired by our Art of Solidarity exhibition, which closes this weekend. Here, Seleena Laverne Daye, who will be running the event, blogs about zines, identity and activism: Read more…

Use Art as an Activist!

31 July 2017 by Stef

Front cover of Seleena Laverne Day’s ‘Brown Girl’ zine

As we come to the final weeks of Art of Solidarity, an exhibition of vibrant Cuban posters from the 1960s and 70s showing solidarity with African liberation movements including the opposition to South African Apartheid and Angola’s fight for independence, we will be taking inspiration from these revolutionary Cuban poster artists to offer visitors the opportunity to participate in events that aim to further explore the capacity of art forms to be a powerful tool of activism and a means to create dialogue.

“For the closing weekend of Art of Solidarity, we will be exploring activism through self- publishing, in an artist-led workshop delivered by Manchester based zine-maker Seleena Laverne Daye.

“A zine is a small circulation, self- published work, normally produced very cheaply using a photocopier and distributed through friends, fairs or by sale online. A zine can cover any topic from politics, popular culture, film, photography, history, food to perzines (personal zines), which focus on the individual experiences of the writer. Due to the lack of censorship within this medium, zines can also offer their authors an empowering platform to challenge established narratives and share their views with others, arguably forming an important record of social history that may explore viewpoints that are marginalised in mainstream media channels.

“Author of DIY publications ‘Poor Lass’ and ‘Brown Girl’, Seleena’s zines explore topics related to race, class and gender:

Growing up as a working class woman of colour, I aim, through my art and zines, to create a space for working class people and women of colour. To be able to tell and share their stories in their own voices, as they so often don’t get the chance to.” – Seleena Laverne Daye

“We are delighted to welcome Seleena to International Slavery Museum on Saturday 5th August to discuss the activism within her own zines and art, share some of her favourite zines and explain how to get involved in making and distributing DIY publications. Visitors will also have the chance to begin their own zine projects and make a badge to take away too!

Embroidered Black Lives Matter patch

Seleena’s zine-making workshop will take place on Saturday 5th August 1-3pm. Free but booking is advised due to limited places.

We will also be offering a tour of Art of Solidarity before this workshop at 12.30pm

If you are interested in finding out more about zine culture, our closest zine library is Salford Zine Library, a unique archive of self published materials housed at Nexus Art Café in Manchester, where visitors can find over 1500 publications to browse.

Look out for Wednesday’s special blog, from Seleena Laverne Daye , who is running the zine workshop!

 

 

Sankofa news

24 July 2017 by Laura

Women on a stall

The team were at Africa Oye in June, spreading word about the project

Project Curator, Mitty Ramagavigan updates us on the latest news from the Sankofa project: Read more…

The sun always shines at National Museums Liverpool!

24 July 2017 by Megan

Six long weeks to fill and entertain the kids is looming. But National Museums Liverpool has a fun-filled summer of events and activities planned for the whole family so there is no excuse to feel bored!

Read more…

Uncover the secrets of the Underground Railroad – with computers!

20 July 2017 by Sarah

This is a secret symbol or quilt code to communicate ‘safe house’. It will be included in the Underground Railroad computer game. Credit: Belvedere Academy History Club

How do you create a “choose-your-own-adventure” computer game about a hidden history that was conducted in secret, out of sight and under the cover of darkness? This task was explored by five remarkable students from Belvedere Academy as they created a series of scenarios, each with choices and consequences based upon the Underground Railroad, the code name for a network of secret routes, places and people that aided fugitives in the United States escape from Slave States to Free States.

The project will be showcased on 27 July and 23 August as part of the Museum’s 10th anniversary programme of free events and talks, including its Slavery Remembrance Day commemorations Read more…

Cuba and its propaganda posters

6 July 2017 by Andrew Bullock

Image of a woman holding a gun.

Day of Solidarity with the People of Guinea-Bissau & Cape Verde, 1968 By Berta Abelénda Fernández

The Caribbean island of Cuba has produced more propaganda in support of oppressed peoples than any other nation on earth. But why? 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.