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Liverpool 8 community showcased at new display at Museums of Liverpool

1 year ago

Liverpool 8 community showcased at new display at Museums of Liverpool
The Urban Madonna and Child (c) Copyright of Leroy Cooper

A new display created with Liverpool photographer, Leroy Cooper, is to become the inaugural display at the Museum of Liverpool’s redeveloped Skylight Gallery this April. 

Liverpool Through the Lens showcases images taken by Leroy of the Liverpool 8 community and the city, over his 40-year career. The powerful display focuses on everyday people and explores themes, including racism, inequality, pride and regeneration, through Leroy’s lens. 

Leroy Cooper explained: “In July 1981, aged 20, I was arrested coming to the aid of a resident in Liverpool 8 who was wrongly accused of stealing a motorbike. Tensions were high between local people and the authorities due to long-term unemployment, racism, poor housing conditions and police harassment. My arrest was the final spark that ignited the 1981 Uprising where residents fought back in civil disturbances that lasted nine days. 

“Later, when I discovered that I was employment blacklisted, I was encouraged to explore the creative arts. I undertook a photography course at the Open Eye Gallery and soon recognised the power of the visual image to shape perceptions in the media. I decided to pursue a career to counteract the overwhelmingly negative depictions of Toxteth after 1981.” 

Liverpool
Credit: Museum of Liverpool

Since then, Leroy has taken 250,000 photographs and created a legacy with his work. He said: “In the city that played a leading role in the enslavement of Black people through the transatlantic slave trade, I wanted to play a part in the healing process. Capturing these images celebrates the positive aspects of my diverse community. My photography is a love letter to the city of Liverpool.” 

Speaking ahead of the launch, Lead Curator of Urban & Community History from the Museum of Liverpool, Kay Jones, said: “This is the first display in our redeveloped Skylight gallery – a space which explores events and issues impacting Liverpool’s communities. It is an insightful collection of work, captured by Leroy over four decades, which tells the story of a community from his unique perspective.” 

Leroy added: “Sometimes we see things better in the reflection of time passing. This is the power of photography.” 

Liverpool Through the Lens opens on 1 April 2023 at the Skylight Gallery on the Museum of Liverpool’s top floor. There will be 20 images selected from Leroy’s 40-year career, accompanied by words written by Leroy and further images digitally displayed in the Museum’s Atrium.  

It will be free entry and a collection of Leroy Cooper prints will be available to buy in the Museum of Liverpool shop and the National Museums Liverpool online shop

Images featured in the Liverpool Through the Lens display will also be going on tour with the immersive House of Memories mobile museum, as part of the work National Museums Liverpool does in the local community with people living with dementia. 

More about the display here: ‘Liverpool Through the Lens’ by Leroy Cooper | National Museums Liverpool (liverpoolmuseums.org.uk) 

See what else is coming to National Museums Liverpool this summer HERE.

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