International Slavery Museum Young Ambassador Lois South had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Liverpool Carnival Company and interview their Director Maeve Morris in 2018. She reported:
"Upon entering The Old Library on Lodge Lane, I was hit by a whirlwind of feathers, sequins and, of course, glitter! The once unused space has been transformed into what I can only describe as a factory of wonders, where founders Maeve and Roger Morris churn out costumes and floats in every conceivable colour, with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers.
As a young ambassador for International Slavery Museum, I was able to get a chance to sit down with Maeve, to find out about her exciting life experiences which led her and her partner Roger to create the now iconic Brazilica Festival back in 2008. This fantastic 3-day annual festival brings all the amazing aspects of Brazilian culture to Liverpool - and yes, that does include the food!
International Slavery Museum Ambassador, Lois, with one of Maeve’s favourite headdresses
While we were at the library, Maeve also gave us the inside scoop on the inner workings of Brazilica. I was able to have a closer look at the fabulous floats and displays that she and Roger had been building, along with their hardworking volunteers. The initial sight of feathers, glitter and sequins didn’t do any of their creations true justice. Maeve and Roger were extremely humble about their extraordinary achievement, in putting together the carnival.
"When I asked how long it took to create the Poseidon float, Roger merely shrugged and casually said “six weeks and five people”, as if this magnificent display of artwork and craftsmanship towering over me in all of its splendour was just light work."
From the bejewelled headdresses to the medusa float, it really was a sight to behold. As a non-native of Liverpool, who was previously unaware of Brazilica, I can safely say that I’ve been missing out.
Our interview with Maeve is part of a series of interviews conducted for National Museums Liverpool's Sankofa project and the ‘Seeds of Change’ Zine that myself and artist Seleena Daye have been working on about the incredible lives and works of 5 Liverpool women with the ability to inspire activism. I had the fantastic opportunity to learn how to record oral testimonies when we met Maeve, working alongside an incredible team including Seleena Daye (Artist), Christine Holt (Oral Historian), Stef Bradley (Education Manager) and Claire Stringer (Visual Minute Taker), to record our meeting with Maeve for the Sankofa Project.
An amazing feathered headpiece
Whilst listening to the interviews I had a chance to reflect on what Sankofa means to me. The project not only explores Liverpool’s Black history, it also helps to provide a more well-rounded picture of the oldest Black community in England. A community which Maeve and Roger celebrate and bring together through their carnival and samba school.
The ‘Seeds of Change’ Zine also aims to show that there many different ways to be active in your community. Activism isn’t just standing around with placards. Maeve actively works to bring Brazilian culture to everyone in Liverpool, young or old, male or female.
This year, 2018, it's more important than ever to reflect on the inspirational women in our communities. Whilst 2018, marks 100 Years since women rightly gained the Right to Vote in the UK, it is important to consider the women in today's world who will go on to progress the cause of women's rights and take up space, both close to home and around the world. The fantastic work that Maeve does, could itself have a century-long legacy - and hopefully, Brazillica will still be going strong in 2118!” Visual minutes of Maeve’s interview created by artist Claire Stringer (morethanminutes.co.uk)
About the author
Lois is studying History at Liverpool John Moores University. She is a Young Ambassador for the International Slavery Museum and worked with artist Seleena Daye to create a zine for the Sankofa project highlighting women activists in Liverpool. Lois is also a keen blogger on a variety of topic from carnivals to strange histories. You can check out more of her work at her blog The New Weird.