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L8: more than just a state of mind

22 May 2015 by Andrew

Download the Blippar app and get more out of L8 Unseen

Download the Blippar app and get more out of L8 Unseen

Marc Boothe of B3 Media, producer and curator of L8 Unseen which is on display at the Museum of Liverpool, reflects on the creation of the exhibition:

““L8 is a state of mind.” Local historian Laurence Westgaph’s phrase is one I’ve heard repeatedly since starting to curate and produce L8 Unseen.

It’s a hook, a riff that I couldn’t get out of my head. Simple enough to understand but raising more questions than answers. What makes a community? What gels people together for generations? Where can we find the characters and stories making those connections? Why should they matter to anyone outside L8?

Starting in February, we interviewed, filmed and took photographic portraits of L8 people – people who had grown up, lived, worked in the area. We had just 16 weeks to complete all the portraits (including 20 large-scale prints), film and edit 40 oral histories, create interactive links for a smartphone app, develop and install a website and interactive kiosk.

But the biggest challenge was to gain the trust of a tight-knit and protective community. Born and bred in Brixton, hundreds of miles south, I was an outsider. The community was not that different from the one I grew up in – Sus laws, riots, activism, music, energy, openness, sharing, curiosity and warmth – but L8 has an extra swagger of pride and resilience.

It has stories – from a multi-cultural community about to be massively transformed. In ten years parts of L8 will be unrecognisable or no longer exist. Jobs might come with the investment but so will increased property prices and rents; social and youth services hollowed out; people and community displaced. As the developers, councils and landlords play their game of Monopoly, those most at risk are least able to play the game or even tilt the playing board. L8 Unseen is channeling Liverpool 8’s past, present and future, providing a rare glimpse of a community spirit that refuses to die.

The project has so far attracted little national media coverage – but the response to L8 Unseen has been astounding with over 60,000 visitors in just over a month. Word of mouth at community level has brought people in to make discoveries. Like Vivian Walcott, who came to the exhibition with her daughter, finding a black and white portrait of herself taken at a street party over 30 years ago.

And many other stories. Ann Lopez, mother of 5 children and 20 grandchildren, at the age of 40 went back to college to finish her O and A levels. Listen how she talks powerfully about how she discovered her voice as a poet.

Cherise Smith represents the future of L8. In her early 20’s, she has been part of the Tiber young people steering group since schooldays. She recently joined the board of directors of this social enterprise hub and is playing a key role in the development of her local area. Cherise was voted joint Female Achiever of the Year at The Black Achievers Awards, Liverpool (2013).

L8 Unseen has profoundly changed my understanding of the transformative power of stories. As a storyteller I now have evidence that, when shared, they empower and make a difference.

L8 is more than just a state of mind. It’s a sense of identity and pride and resilience; and it’s a community which has over time had its heart ripped out, broken and scattered. But which picks itself up, licks its wounds, re-groups and gets on with business. I came away with a strong sense that the L8 community is tougher and more resilient than we ‘outsiders’ can understand. Fragile and malleable; yet tough as graphene.

I hope you get to see L8 Unseen before it closes on 6 September.”

Students honour Alice Seeley Harris as an Unsung Hero

19 May 2015 by Lucy Johnson

A black and white photograph of Alice Seeley Harris sat on a chair on her 100th birthday

Alice Seeley Harris on her 100th birthday in 1970.

Alice Seeley Harris’ photographs of the Free State Congo in the 1900s revealed the horror of colonial violence and exploitation to the world. Our exhibition Brutal Exposure: the Congo at the International Slavery Museum highlights how these images were used to overthrow King Leopold II’s brutal regime. Over a century after Alice took these photographs, students in Kansas have been inspired by her story and have developed a wonderful project acknowledging her work. One of the students tells us more…

“My name is Avery Stratton. I am a senior at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka, Kansas, in the United States. A couple of my peers and I are currently working on an entry for the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Project competition in Fort Scott, Kansas, which is an effort to highlight individuals who have demonstrated immense courage and compassion in the past who may have not received the recognition they deserve

Alexis Balaun, one of our team members, discovered Alice Seeley Harris while watching a documentary on the Congo. Alice’s heart-wrenching photos were showcased, but not much was said about the person behind the camera. Intrigued by this brave woman, Alexis presented her to our group and we knew that Alice would make the perfect focus for our project.  Read more…

Crisis Art Competition

13 May 2015 by Lucy Johnson

Painting of poppies with red and blue backgroundI have always been a strong believer that art has an important role to play in society, so I am really lucky to work closely with the Walker Art Gallery and its inspiring collection of works. I recently got the opportunity to view some more inspiring art when I was asked to be involved in a competition run by run by the homeless charity CrisisRead more…

Spotted! That’s me in the photo – 30 years on

20 April 2015 by Kay

two women in front of a huge photo

Vivian with her daughter in front of the photograph of her (right)

Vivian Walcott was recently very surprised to see herself as a 10 year old in the L8 Unseen exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool – especially as she doesn’t remember the event or the photograph being taken!

The picture, of a street party for the L8 Mandela Freedom Festival in 1988, shows Vivian with her friend, Tito Cooper.

She lived in Magdela Street at the time – where her mum, a well-known member of the community still lives, and fondly remembers the tight knit L8 community growing up. Read more…

Brutal Exposure reviewed by Vava Tampa

13 April 2015 by Lucy Johnson

Image of Congolese man with injured wrist at entrance to exhibitionThere are less than two months left to visit our powerful exhibition Brutal Exposure: the Congo at the International Slavery Museum. Vava Tampa, founder of Save the Congo and chair of the Morel Prize, has given his thoughts on the display:

Brutal Exposure: the Congo at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum is notable for many things. One of the masterpieces at the heart of this brilliantly staged installation is a still, sanitised portrait of a Congolese man Lomboto.

Simple and sublime, Lomboto’s portrait, which is also the exhibition’s lead image – and one of the few images that became iconic for colonial brutality – fills the high white wall of the exhibition’s entrance space, Read more…

L8 Create – tell us your Liverpool 8 stories!

1 April 2015 by Sam

two men by a wall of photgraphs and social media comments

Othello De’Souza-Hartley and Marc Boothe in the L8 Create area of the L8 Unseen exhibition

Opening on Friday 3 April at the Museum of Liverpool, the L8 Unseen exhibition reveals the stories and experiences of a diverse range of people from the Liverpool 8 community. The exhibition aims to uncover the spirit and heritage of the area through filmed interviews and striking large-scale photographs taken by renowned photographer Othello De’Souza-Hartley. Read more…

Picturing Venice in a different light

23 March 2015 by Sam

painting of gondolas under a cloudy grey sky in Venice

‘Grey Venice’ by Charles Napier Hemy

Our photographer Keith Sweeney has taken these fascinating pictures as part of his behind-the-scenes work preparing for a new exhibition. He explains:

“This painting, ‘Grey Venice’ by Charles Napier Hemy from the Walker Art Gallery’s collection, is one of many pictures of Venice from our collection that has been considered for inclusion in the upcoming Picturing Venice exhibition, which opens at the Lady Lever Art Gallery on 1 May.

Read more…

Rebellious attitude, quirky images and cool music

4 February 2015 by Lisa

Girl sitting on the beach playing records

Brighton Beach, 1967, by Tony Ray-Jones.

Next week our new photography exhibition opens at the Walker Art Gallery and I’ve been working on a new video to spread the word about the exhibition and help bring it to life.  Read more…

New Brighton – mecca for photographers

17 November 2014 by Sam

old photograph of families taking donkey rides on New Brighton beach

Keith Medley Archive Liverpool John Moores University

In many ways New Brighton is no different from many other seaside towns. In its heyday it was a bustling resort with people outnumbering pebbles on the beach. This glorious time is captured in fantastic photographs from the Keith Medley archive at Liverpool John Moores University, which are now on display in the Our day out exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool. The photographs are accompanied by reminiscences by Liverpool people of visiting the resort, getting sand in your sandwiches, wearing knotted hankies on your head to avoid getting burnt and dashing for the last ferry home.

These fond memories are perhaps even more poignant when you consider the changes of fortune that have affected New Brighton since those golden days. Read more…

Bug House photography competition 2014 winners!

1 October 2014 by Lisa

Bug laying eggs on a leaf

Bug laying eggs, Phoebe Jones, age 5.

The jury at World Museum has had a tough time ‘beetling away’, looking at all the entries into our 2014 Bug House photo competition!   Read more…

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