Black Presence Explored Showcase

Published: 20 November 2020

This project was curated by Opal 22 Arts & Edutainment.

This project worked with some of the art and sculpture from the museum’s collections that depicts black people. Online workshops throughout Black History Month, led by local poet ‘The Orator’, enabled members of the community to respond to the artworks in poetry. Their words have been made into new labels which look at the works of art from a new perspective.

Leicester's Museums and Galleries are currently closed (05/01/2021) due to the national lockdown in England.

Explore the image gallery underneath the poems below to see more works of art and sculpture in the museum which depict images of black people, and email your own short poems to museumsconsultation@leicester.gov.uk  We will feature some of these as part of the project.

Woman With Child on Her Back

Sculpture by Sokari Douglas Camp

© Sokari Douglas Camp
© Sokari Douglas Camp

Woman with child on her back by Julie Walters-Nisbett

Woman is strong

Only she carries her child with a backbone made of steel

Metal is strong

Always she shines

Never does she falter or bend………

 

Iron Giant by Imani Wenham

Woman with child on her back

I am mighty

Don’t even try and fight me

I’m anchored to the ground

Check yourself when I’m around

I’m of rich blood

A chief and fisherman

The sea and the heavens are my lands

From Nigeria

To England

I’ve been around

But just know I shall stand my ground

When I was in school

I stayed hidden behind four walls

Far from home sometimes I felt so alone

No one looked like me but just look and see

I got my education

Knowledge is the key

I shall be free

Standing mighty and tall

Showing all my people they no longer have to crawl

Hold your head up tall

 

You’re Missing the Point

Lithograph by Pogus Caesar

© Pogus Caesar. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2020
© Pogus Caesar. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2020

You’re Missing the Point by Govan Hinds

HEAR - creaking, speaking, breaking

SEE - contortion, proportion, coercion.

TASTE - sweat, fret, kept.

Hearing, of which was creaking, I thought I heard him speaking but he was breaking.

Me, I see contortion, coercion of much proportion.

I sweat at the thought of his fret - and the colonisation he would’ve kept.

 

You’re Missing the Point by Imani Wenham

Now we rage

In the dawn of the new age 

You will know my name

Feel my rhythm 

As I jump of the page

 

I’m regal like an eagle

I fly, high in the sky

 

I sit and feast while I feed my beautiful geese 

I’m like a tree

You will never see me begging on my knees

 

My eyes begin fill up with an ocean

I can’t stop 

All I see is commotion 

I wish I could heal them with a magical potion 

 

I sat in my field of geese feeding them the sweet bread that my mother had cooked for me

 

You’re Missing the Point by Katy Bunning

Sounds, scenes, 

I see these dreams. 

 

She sits serene, 

Assured, alive 

 

But deep in memory 

To thrive, to thrive. 

 

Sounds, scenes,  

Laughter and love, 

Rooted, resounding. 

Misheard, cast off. 

 

Jancrow by The Orator

You’re missing the point

Hold on nuh bredrin

A wah dat you ah deal wid?

How you fi give mans food, to mans food?

How you fi tun yuh back pon man?

Yuh nuh have nuh manners marsa yuh rude

Marsa, why yuh nuh fraid?

Yuh ah feed Geese like ah any given Sunday

Marsa god, yuh brave

Marsa, yuh must know Judas de’mongst we

A weh yuh ah do so comfy?

Marsa god! See dem a come with pumpy

Lawd jesus nuttun caan funny

Cah I see inna dere eyes a wicked determination to mek jumbie

Bruddah, time fi go…

But the Geese have not had their feed

So no.

Go if unnu ah go

But duppy caan run from Jancrow

Go if unnu ah go

But duppy caan run from Jancrow.

 

Mummified Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egypt Gallery at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery

The Egyptian mummy by Sofia Sireno

When the time had come, I was prepared

I closed my eyes and my adventures began;

I flew above the ocean, saw the highest waves

I ran with the horses in sunflower fields

I challenged eagles on the snowy mountains

suddenly, my dreams came to an end:

A bright light is keeping me from leaving

Without dark, you cannot sleep,

Without my land, my silence, my refugee,

I cannot rest.

 

Ancient Egyptian by Julie Walters Nisbett

I want to be with my family

I want to be with my things

I want to be in my mother land

I want to be in my chosen resting place

 

Ancient Egyptian by Frankie Bianchi

Keep My Sister Safe

Keep my sister safe Mau,

Although I’m sad she is not with me,

I know her journey is not finished

I will entrust her to your paws Mau,

Guide her to the underworld,

Horus will meet you there,

Let him know I’ve done my part

But now it’s your turn Mau

Please keep her really safe.

Even though its dark in there,

I’ll know she’ll be okay

Make sure she knows I love her

And please Mau, please keep my sister safe.

 

Man…His Universe

Sculpture by Bill Moody

© Ronald Moody Trust 2020
© Ronald Moody Trust 2020

Man…His Universe by Sofia Sireno

Taking my big paw in the usual pond,

much more large, much richer after the Great Flood,

I am no common animal, I know that, and I hear them mocking,

but I am joyful and serene, all I listen is a noisy squawking.

Meanwhile my two long-time friends keep staring

this hostile world but -hey- how tasteful are herrings!

At my right nothing more than high voltage wires,

at my left just some used, flatten tires

But all I see stands in front of me,

Pure Happiness and Desires.

 

Maya Confrontation

Painting by Aubrey Williams

© Estate of Aubrey Williams. All rights reserved, DACS 2020
© Estate of Aubrey Williams. All rights reserved, DACS 2020

Maya Confrontation by Sofia Sireno

Here come the cheerful mass,

All reunited tonight, crossing paths.

Dancing and singing, it’s a celebration

But in the dark, far away, an evil laugh

it sounds exactly like damnation

Where the lights are on, agitation

grow stronger and stronger,

high they rise, vibrations

With music and chants we forget the oppressor

we forget, high blood pressure

and the chaos, and the thrill, as we come closer to the fire

We are all together, and together we respire.

 

A Lesson in Trust

Limewood sculpture by Bill Ming

© Bill Ming
© Bill Ming

A Lesson in Trust by Bill Ming

Whether Father/Mother

Sister or Brother

we gotta love one/n/other

that's a must

 

We all need A Lesson in Trust.

 

Submit your own poems

We would like to invite members of the public to send in your own short poems in response to some of the other artworks depicting black people on display in Leicester Museum & Art gallery.

Here are some of the images of these works.

Gallery

Send your poems to: museumsconsultation@leicester.gov.uk

Leicester's Museums and Galleries are currently closed (02/12/2020) due to the Covid Tier 3 restrictions.