THE L8 Unseen project is a cross-platform (connecting photography, film, spoken word and online) heritage project being facilitated by the Museum of Liverpool and B3 Media. It aims to uncover, record and share stories from community groups and individuals living in the Liverpool 8 area. The exhibition is at the museum until 6 September. It will feature high quality portraits of community members (taken by artist/photographer Othello De’Souza-Hartley), oral histories, short films and digital installations. There is also an interactive area called L8 Create where visitors can input their own images and stories adding to the developing exhibition. Organisers are keen to enable as wide a participation as possible and uncover stories about the area that challenge stereotypes and negative media representations. Good News Liverpool spoke to L8 resident Sandi Hughes who features in the exhibition and this is what she had to say about her involvement and what L8 Unseen means to her: “I first met Marc Boothe, the Executive Producer of B3 Media, in the Bluecoat, along with Bev Ayre from Unity, Othello De’Souza-Hartley – Artist/Photographer, and Shazad, who was also on the team. Marc was going to produce an exhibition about the people who lived in Liverpool 8, past and present, and it was to be launched in the Museum of Liverpool. He explained the idea behind the project was about ‘…challenging mainstream media’s stereo-typing areas that question the authorities and establishments’, and I thought ‘…wow, this is different, and as he continued explaining, I heard words like ‘capture the spirit, stories about families, and community, participation, hidden histories, representation, heritage… L8 Unseen Sandi Hughesi“He told me that his team had met community leaders and groups, and were following their ‘trail of recommendations’, and my name was put forward, and he wanted to know if I would like to be interviewed and filmed telling my story about living in L8. “Well, I love talking, especially about myself, and I immediately told different stories about how I came to be in Liverpool, and in Toxteth, Liverpool 8, where I felt ‘Safe’ for the first time in my life, and I was 29 years old. I told him about getting my kids taken off me because I am gay, I told him how I traced and found my mother when I was in my 40s, and she was still living in Bristol in the area where I was born, and me and 2 of my daughters just turned up on her doorstep, only to find out that she hadn’t told her husband she had a kid, and I told him how I traced and found my father who lived in Chicago USA, and had died 10 months before I found him, but I met his wife and she told me all about him, and she knew he had a daughter and I lived in England, but the authorities blocked him from getting to me, and the neighbours were crying because he had told them about me, and they didn’t believe him because he never got the chance to connect up with me … my life has been so ‘up and down’, I had them all aching with laughter and crying, and about 2 hours later, I had to stop because they had to be somewhere else. “About a week later, I was interviewed in my home, there was a camera crew of 2, and Bev, Othello and Shazad were there. Marc sat in a chair opposite me, but out of view of the camera, and his questions were on specific angles and issues regarding my living in Liverpool 8. I felt very ‘delicate’ at times, because I had come to be in L8 after leaving a very abusive marriage, and I didn’t want to go ‘there’, and I think Marc could sense my position and directed me to other areas. When the interview finished, Othello was going to take photographs of me in my living room, but I showed him my bedroom first because it had a mural of a Caribbean Island, and he loved it. “When the interview was over, Marc asked if I could recommend people from L8 who would be up for being filmed and telling their stories, I said I would because being a filmmaker myself, and having filmed and taken photographs of Liverpool people since the mid 80’s, especially the ‘black’ community, I had a vast knowledge of who would be up for it. At first I thought that he just wanted ‘black’ people from L8, but he made a point of telling me, the project was about anyone and everyone who lived in Liverpool 8, and called it ‘home’. “I really love what Marc and his team have done with the L8Unseen exhibition, especially how it looks. The result is an incredibly powerful, visual exhibition, with massive photographs, and intimate interviews of peoples stories about their families, about their dreams and ambitions, about the L8 community looking out for each other, and what went on in the past. I’ve heard all these stories before from L8 people, but Marc has the gift of extracting personal and detailed knowledge from individual people and their community.“