A photo of Christopher when he was a young boy. He’s wearing white socks and a tee shirt. He’s pulling the sleeve up to his shoulder and seems to be proudly showing off his arm muscles to the camera. In the room there are some cushions on the floor, a green dragon toy and a coffee table. One wall is yellow and the other has blinds pulled down. It appears to be night outside.
Christopher Samuel — The Archive of the Unseen. Image by: Carol Samuel

Christopher Samuel — The Archive of the Unseen

As a disabled, black child from a working-class household, Christopher Samuel’s experience of growing up is missing from the Wellcome Collection – the UK’s largest and most influential medical and social archive.

To not be represented in world-leading spaces such as this entrenches the prejudice and lack of understanding that Christopher has faced throughout his life. The Archive of the Unseen aims to start the process of redressing this imbalance.

“[This work] asks the questions, how many people become disengaged through not seeing themselves as part of this story? How many people have been misunderstood because they have not been properly represented? And what happens if we don’t attempt to address the gaps? In its small way, the heart of this work is to address these most important of issues in order to build a better understanding of the lives and experiences of disabled people like me.” Christopher Samuel.

Through a custom-built sculptural recreation of a Microform reader, users will navigate an interactive audiovisual narrative made up of fragments of content – audio, video, images, documents – that build a vivid picture of Christopher’s story, to tell the wider story of what it was like to grow up black, disabled and working-class in the 1980s. Through drawing out the untold stories and unrepresented experiences from his personal history and the lives of other people from similar backgrounds, the work will ensure people like Christopher – their histories, their experiences – no longer go unseen.