A sign of change

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My name is Aminata Konate, but everyone calls me Amy. I am a 30 year old French national with Senegalese origins, residing in the UK with my Liverpudlian partner. I have lived in this beautiful city for ten years now and I would not wish to be anywhere else.

Since a very young age, I have been immensely fond of history and the history of art. Especially the 18th and 19th century Romanticism and Neoclassicism. Growing up visiting the Louvre, les Invalides and the Musée d’Orsay, I could not act any different in Liverpool.

It is therefore part of my routine to visit Liverpool museums and art galleries; and enjoy the multitude of stunning paintings and sculptures, stories you can create and imagine just by staring at those meticulous works of art.

Meticulous, stunning yes, but something changed for me on a recent visit.

man in uniform saying farewell to a woman

The Black Brunswicker by John Everett Millais

As I was enjoying a sunny autumn day visiting the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, strolling around Victorian ways of life and Pre-Raphaelite’s captivating yet sometimes tragic tales in the main hall, I stopped. I stopped looking at the paintings and felt down.

My relationship with art is conflicted, it has been for a while I realise. I am missing something; diversity, colours, skin colours.

And I thought to myself: People of African descent have been in this world for centuries, thousands of years but I don’t see them in these amazing paintings, I don’t see us, I don’t see me...

women asleep under a tree by a snake

The Garden of Hesperides by Frederic Leighton

We have been inventors, creators, painters, muses to the painters, artists too. Living traditional lives in Tudor England, Members of Parliament since the 19th century, citizens. 

Museums and art are a key tool to show the beauty of this world and the true history it has built throughout the years.

That got me emotional and thinking, is there anything I can do to change that? What can I do or say? How can I help?

As I finished my visit and was thanking the staff before leaving, I saw a sign. A sign that said 'Black lives matter'. It put a smile on my face, and I was eager to read through it before leaving the art gallery.

It said you care, you hear, you listen, and you will act. For this I thank you.

Black Lives Matter sign at the Lady Lever Art Gallery

The sign said: ‘you can share your thoughts with us about our interpretation and language by emailing blacklivesmatter@liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

So here I am. Telling you my thoughts but more importantly, so open and envious to help and contribute to this new door that is opening, assembling the Black world, Black lives and art.

I am very much looking forward to the change you will bring. Hoping to walk out of all museum doors feeling as grateful as I felt on that visit. 

Lead image: Lady Lever Art Gallery main hall © Pete Carr