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Yarli Allison Dear Child Guess Where This Is 2021 Dear Child Guess What Ive Seen Sailing 2021 Image by Rob Battersby Installation view at FACT 2

Dear Child, Guess Where This Is (2021)

In this newly commissioned work, Yarli Allison produces a multimedia installation that reconstructs Liverpool’s old Chinatown and tells the stories of its lost Chinese sailors. By the turn of the 20th century, Pitt Street near Liverpool’s lively docks saw a multicultural mix of migrant workers, including the British Merchant Navy’s Chinese seafarers and their families. These communities experienced increasing racism in the 1930s, and old Chinatown eventually disappeared after the bombings of World War II and the sudden forced repatriation of Chinese seamen, leaving their British and Irish wives, partners and children behind.

Using oral history, interviews from the dual-heritage descendents of the seamen, census data, digital mapping and virtual reality, and working with queer performers, Allison rebuilds this lost Chinatown as a digital landscape with imagined inhabitants’ daily lives: making visible these forgotten diaspora histories. A variety of ‘artefacts’ created by the artist - watercolour drawings, a miniature diorama, a letter - retell the experiences of intergenerational grief and loss through a queer and empathetic lens.

Commissioned by FACT, Liverpool with the support of public funds from Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council, and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme project Artsformation. With additional research support from CFCCA with the support of public funds from GMCA. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.