Unseen: Archiving the hidden Black disabled experience

Saturday 22th April

Join artist Christopher Samuel for a conversation about the stories and themes in his artwork ‘The Archive of an Unseen’, which is on display in the Reading Room.


Christopher will talk about growing up Black, British and disabled, and how, when he was making the artwork, he realised these experiences were missing from Wellcome Collection’s archive. ‘The Archive of An Unseen’ addresses these absences.

In conversation with Wellcome Collection director Melanie Keen, Chris will explore representation in medical and social archives. They will discuss how museums need to proactively ask questions about power and why finding yourself meaningfully represented matters.

The talk will be facilitated by Arike Oke, Executive Director of Knowledge and Collections at the British Film Institute. There’ll be a chance to ask questions during a discussion and Q&A at the end.

It may include discussion of topics including domestic violence, drug abuse, abuse in schools, racism and the experience of being forced into an institution.

This event will take place in our building and on Zoom.

‘The Archive of an Unseen’ is commissioned and supported by Wellcome Collection and by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists, with funding from Arts Council England.

About your contributors

Christopher Samuel is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice is rooted in identity and disability politics, often echoing the many facets of his own lived experience. Seeking to interrogate his personal understanding of identity as a disabled person impacted by inequality and marginalisation, Christopher responds with urgency, humour and poetic subversiveness within his work. This approach makes his work accessible to a wider audience, allowing others to identify and relate to a wider spectrum of human experience.

Melanie Keen is Director of Wellcome Collection, London, which aims to challenge the way we think and feel about health. Her intention is to give voice to radical imagination on what health is and what it could be. She is committed to reshaping our cultural assumptions around race, disability and gender, and the human relationship to planetary health. A graduate of the RCA, Melanie has worked as a curator, and in arts policy and funding at Arts Council England. Prior to joining Wellcome Collection, she was Director and Chief Curator at pioneering arts organisation Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), where she was instrumental in the revitalisation of Iniva’s mission and vision by making the Stuart Hall Library its creative hub.

Arike Oke’s practice is rooted in social justice and the role of culture in giving strength to, and inspiring, individuals and communities. She has worked in heritage for over 15 years, from the seminal Connecting Histories project in Birmingham, to developing Wellcome Collection’s archive and co-convening Hull’s first official Black History Month. She currently leads the screen heritage collections at the British Film Institute in the role of Executive Director of Knowledge and Collections. She was formerly the Managing Director for Black Cultural Archives, the home of Black British history.

Need to know


We’ll be in the Forum. To get there, take the lift or stairs up to level 1 and then follow the signs through the ‘Being Human’ gallery.

Place not guaranteed

Booking a ticket for a free event does not guarantee you a place. You should aim to arrive 15 minutes before the event is scheduled to start to claim your place. If you do not arrive on time, your place may be given to someone on the waiting list.

Waiting list

If this event is fully booked, you may still be able to attend. We will operate a waiting list, which opens 30 minutes before this event starts. Arrive early, and we’ll give you a numbered ticket. If there are any unfilled places just before the start time, we will invite you to enter in order of ticket number.

British Sign Language

This event is British Sign Language interpreted. An interpreter will be embedded in the event stream/visible to all attendees and will interpret what is discussed into BSL for d/Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened attendees.


This event will have live speech-to-text transcription, which may be useful for people who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or neurodiverse. The captions will be displayed on a large screen in-venue. Ticketholders for the livestream will receive a link to view the captions in a separate window.

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