Memory Blocks

8 March to 27 April 2003

Please note that this exhibition has now closed

What is a memory block? It usually describes a situation when something cannot be remembered. Instead the memory blocks at this former exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool Life are clever perspex bricks that help people recall the past!

These clear brick-shaped boxes were being used to discover what ‘history’ means to people in Liverpool, through discussion and art. The exhibition was a collection of these memory blocks celebrating the community’s different voices and recollections.

Around 80 participants were given a block and asked to create a representation of their memories using any medium they wanted to. Some lined them with photographs while others used objects, sculpture or writing. Some even used sound to share music and oral histories.

schoolboy putting objects in a perspex box

Nganda, 10, woking on his box at the Memory Block workshop at the Greenhouse Multicultural Arts Project

The 9 different community groups that took part were:

  • Ashanti Caribbean Youth Club
  • Chinese Elderly Luncheon Club
  • Greenhouse Multicultural Arts Project
  • Harold House Jewish Community Centre
  • Marybone Youth Centre
  • Rice Lane City Farm
  • Rotunda Community College
  • Somali Women’s Group
  • Yemeni Arabic Club

Each memory block contained a very personal interpretation of the past and what it means to the community and the city. These wonderful creations varied enormously, from cultural festivals like the Dragon Boat Festival to simple childhood memories such as the local playground.

The blocks were used to construct walls, shapes and structures, symbolising the fact that the city is built on memories. In other words the past is the foundation on which present and future is constructed!

The Memory Block exhibition was first shown at The Blackie in Liverpool, before moving to Museum of Liverpool Life.

HELP: Historic Environment of Liverpool Project

The Memory Block exhibition was part of HELP, which stands for the Historic Environment of Liverpool Project. This pioneering initiative from English Heritage (in partnership with Liverpool City Council) aims to give the public an opportunity to express their thoughts about the city’s the future and to understand more about Liverpool’s historic environment.

The information gathered through HELP will create new knowledge about the city’s historic buildings, streets and open spaces. It will inform the process of change and provide comprehensive information for those who manage it. HELP will actively promote the role of Liverpool’s historic environment as a key component of its cultural identity and as an essential element of its dynamic future.

HELP is supported by Liverpool Vision, the North West Development Agency and National Museums Liverpool.

Memory Block workshop at the Chinese Elderly Luncheon Club with artist Mike Badger