Turner Nominee leads Black History Month events

Lubaina Himid, Naming the Money ©Denise Swanson

TURNER NOMINEE LEADS BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS
at National Museums Liverpool 

A powerful new exhibition by 2017 Turner Prize Nominee Lubaina Himid MBE, leads a packed Black History Month programme taking place at many of National Museums Liverpool’s museums and galleries this October.

Opening at the Walker Art Gallery from 7 October to 18 March 2018Lubaina Himid: Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money features works selected by Lubaina from the Arts Council Collection, alongside 20 figures from her major installation Naming the Money.

The pieces selected by Lubaina for this exhibition are all by women artists, and will occupy one room within the gallery. At the centre of this display is her 1987 series of watercolour drawings, ‘Scenes from the life of Toussaint L’Ouverture’, about the formerly enslaved who led the Haitian revolution. The meticulous detail within this series, and its focus upon some key moments and everyday happenings in L’Ouverture’s life, has inspired Lubaina’s selection of other works by artists including Bridget Riley and Claudette Johnson.

The full installation Naming the Money was gifted by the artist to the International Slavery Museum. It addresses how Europe’s wealthy classes spent their money and flaunted their power in the 18th and 19th centuries, by using enslaved African men and women. The highly individual sculptural figures, each with their own profession and life-story, demonstrate how enslavement was disguised and glamorised. The enslaved people were made to look like servants or dressed in the clothes of courtiers. Visitors to the Walker will find groups of these figures positioned around the gallery in configurations determined by the artist.

Lubaina says “My relationship with the Walker has developed over the years because of the 19th century sculptor Edmonia Lewis, she and I are the only women of colour to have work acquired by this wonderful public collection. Her exquisite sculpture of Longfellow influenced my choice of work from the Arts Council Collection.”

Director of Art Galleries, Sandra Penketh, says: “Lubaina Himid is one of the most influential artists working in the UK today. Her work is powerful, dazzling and engaging. Lubaina’s project at the Walker will be thought provoking not only in terms of Black histories but also in considering how artists look at and represent the world they inhabit. We’re excited to see how her work transforms some of the Walker’s rooms.”

The International Slavery Museum (ISM) co-hosts the Historians Against Slavery 2017 conference 7 and 8 October, which is being held for the first time outside of the U.S. It is a biennial event, which this year brings together a distinguished body of leading scholars, museum professionals and anti-slavery activists from around the world to look at how history can inform contemporary efforts to end the enslavement of 46 million people worldwide. Places are free and can be booked online at https://www.has2017.eventbrite.co.uk

Other events at ISM include talks examining transatlantic slavery and its abolition, and another looking at Liverpool’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. Visitors to both talks will be able to handle objects from the Museum’s collections that bring to life the horrors of slavery and the experiences of the enslaved.  Poetess Empress-jai presents a talk about the life and music of musician Nina Simone, exploring how she used her music to speak out about inequality and injustice, as well as her activism in the Civil Rights Movement. For families and people of all ages, there will be craft making sessions and workshops.

At Merseyside Maritime Museum, the new exhibition Black Salt: Britain’s Black Sailors opens on Friday 29 September. Combining personal stories, historic data, objects and memorabilia, Black Salt charts a course through the often troubled waters of Britain’s maritime past to explore the work and experiences of Black seafarers over a 500 year period.Historically overlooked, the exhibition shows how they contended with the dangers and hazards of life at sea, and challenged inequality on board and ashore.

Throughout Black History Month there’s a special programme of free events to accompany the exhibition, including a talk by local historian Ray Costello about the role of Black sailors at the Battle of Trafalgar. The exhibition was informed by Ray’s book Black SaltSeafarers of African Descent on British Ships, with one section dealing with the battle. It features one of the widest paintings in the Walker Art Gallery’s collections, Daniel Maclise’s The Death of Nelson.

The main highlights are listed below, for the full programme, visit: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/blackhistorymonth