Young people to help tell city's history at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery

By Patrick Graham

Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery is offering young people aged 18 - 24 the chance to have their say on how Liverpool’s history of slavery is told.

Young people will have the chance to change how the gallery’s collections are understood by its visitors and gain hands-on experience of working with museum collections.

To find out more about the project young people are invited to attend the Walker Art Gallery to ask questions tomorrow (Friday October 8) from 1pm- 3pm.

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The project will focus on a small group of sculptures that are connected to Liverpool’s Sandbach family, which are currently on display at the Walker.

Participants are welcome and people from Liverpool's diverse ethnic communities, particularly the city’s Black communities, are especially encouraged to apply for this opportunity.

The Sandbach family were shipowners, merchants and plantation owners, who exported sugar, coffee, molasses and rum from the Caribbean.

The family, and their business Sandbach, Tinne & Company, became extremely wealthy through the enslavement, trafficking, and forced labour of many thousands of people.

Using this wealth they collected art, some of which later ended up in the Walker Art Gallery’s collection. The Sandbach family were considered to be leading citizens of Liverpool at the time, and their presence has greatly affected Liverpool’s past and present, and will continue to shape its future.

Margaret Sandbach monument at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery (Walker Art Gallery/National Museums Liverpool)

The project offers hands-on experience of working with museum collections and learning about the work that the curators do behind the scenes.

Discussions with the curators and facilitators aim to bring in your personal voice and viewpoints to help to develop new and engaging ways to tell people about these histories within the Walker’s displays.

Their hard work and valuable contributions will be acknowledged in the revised display, to reinterpret the Sandbach portraits, and redefine how Liverpool’s colonial history is explored through art.

Participants of the steering group will learn about the colonial history of the Liverpool Sandbach family through talks and tours by local artists and historians.

Alex Patterson from the Walker explained that the days for the workshops are yet to be finalised and the young people they speak to will help to decide this.

Those who take part in the six sessions, which will each be about three hours, will receive a payment of £10 per hour for their time.

Alex said: "The opportunity aims to build skills that will help each person get employment in the future. We hope to build the programme around the young people and their learning needs.

"With regards to future employment opportunities, National Museums Liverpool regularly advertises vacancies. We hope that this opportunity will help to support each participant in their prospective careers, whether for college applications, for example, or in applying for museums or other jobs in the cultural sector".

To find out more about National Museums Liverpool and the Walker Art Gallery project, visit its website if you cannot attend Friday’s information drop in.

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