Street Art: North Liverpool

The contemporary issues at the front of the nation’s young minds: their fears, their frustrations and the desire to demand the re-modelling of society. The anxieties of adolescence emulated through the spray can culture of the street.

A smashed paving slab parading a ‘Thanks NHS’ rainbow suggesting an end of public spirited ‘Clap for Carers’?

The road arteries, urban connection venues and green spaces of North Liverpool make up the canvasses for these expressions of creativity. Works of artistic merit decorate the forum, sheep to faces of thunder brighten the arena. LGBTQ issues push their way into promonent vision. Black Lives Matter and the global protests of summer 2020 make their presence known. Mangra style art of the East and Hindu symbols shift around terms such as racism. In contrast, the iconic swastika representing the anti-semitic Nazi’ of the twentieth century never far from view. Anti-capitalism and its factions reflect the socialist agenda of regional left wing politics. A smashed paving slab parading a ‘Thanks NHS’ rainbow suggesting an end of public spirited ‘Clap for Carers’? Ever present politics of Boris, the former prime minister Tony Blair and the realities of Brexit. Football rivalry of old and not forgetting, rather a lot of phallic forms!

‘EAT THE RICH’ is stencilled onto many pedestals, canisters and other outlays

Anti-Capitalist vibes took on a tenacious presence on the protest spheres of North Liverpool. A stanchly red, Labour dominated region, in fact there are no Tory MP’s elected in Liverpool whatsoever. The Converservatiove Parties only real successes in the city were following Winston Churchill’ campaign launch on Merseyside in the early 1950’s. A major factor in this relates to the lower incomes within the area in which votes collate. Liverpool city council has suffered cuts of almost two thirds since Cameron’s austerity measures were introduced in 2010. The decline of shipping, of great importance to the Port city, is often spearheaded onto the 1980’s Conservative Leader: Margaret Thatcher. The sounds of the Mersey Beat Bands, the Beatles in particular, their working class agendas still dominated the airwaves of this Northern municipal.

‘EAT THE RICH’ is stencilled onto many pedestals, canisters and other outlays. Further illustrations look to combine hamburger motifs with freehand spray depictions. The term ‘Eat the Rich’ can be attributed to the 18th Century philosopher: Jean Jacques Rousseau. First used in response to the French Revolution, the poor were starving while the Monarchy were receiving never ending supplies of food. They revolted, the royals were guillotined and the people took control. Of late, various politicians have used the statement, Elizabeth Warren or the US and the Land Party of South Africa ran their election campaign with the slogan. Ordinarily used within radical left wing circles, however surprisingly popular on Tik-Tok, a social media platform popular with young adults. 

Hate the masses


These can be parallelled with ‘Stamp on the Royals’ which can be seen branded in a socialist red. ‘Hate the masses’ comes into view, oversized and in contrast to the commonplace left wing etchings. Potentially a reference to genocide, however more probably a response to the social isolation enforced by restrictions of the pandemic. Covid has increased the gap between rich and poor nationally, Liverpool having been in proportionately affected by higher death rates and the economic impact of additional periods of lockdown, the trade from the spectators at the prominent football groups in particular.

The penis is sprayed, sprawled and depicted in evermany forms across the Everton park area

Embracing the creative arena we are offered a large quantity of phallic forms. The penis is sprayed, sprawled and depicted in evermany forms across the Everton park area, which transcend Netherton Rd, in particular. Women often see this as a threatening image, the penis as a weapon. Freud’ theory relates to man’s greatest fear; of losing their prime tool of masculinity.


In Roman times the symbol of the penis was commonplace, a young boys amulet of a phallus meaning to grant protection. Depictions of male genitalia were often carved in the street pointing towards brothels, the most famed present in Pompeii. Due to low income, poor opportunities for employment and general deprivation, levels of prostitution are high in North Liverpool. As a port city there is a long history of fornification for financial gain, particularly around the dock areas. Other graffiti, stencils out ‘Sex work is Work’ across receptacles, brick structures and columns. Sex work is in fact legal, however soliciting for custom is unlawful. The Red Umbrella project was set up in 2018 to help change the lives of sex workers within Merseyside. It is estimated that around 80% of sex workers don’t want to be working in the industry, they are captive by drug and alcohol addiction, austerity and backgrounds of sexual abuse.

These ideologies aside, there is often a humour element to the ‘Dick’ depiction. Graphic or photographic images of the phallus are often received with an air of disgust, however doodles are often embraced with laughter. In fact we can look toward the image of the head with the penis added to the upper section. Does this not refer to the term ‘Dick-head’, a colloquialism which has been popular across the country since the 1960’s?

A city of great footballing rivalry, everybody is designated as a red or blue, referring to support for the Premiership greats of Liverpool or Everton football club. Derby day banter which takes over the work canteens and the school yards which makes this city so vibrant. Amongst all of this, somebody found time to scroll ‘Save Mary-Hill FC’ on one of the columns of Everton Park, support for a Glasgow conference based team. Out of interest, standard admission to a match only costs £6!


Street art reflecting the activism of the young, the desire for change within the region. Anti- racism and BLM meets fascism, ‘Non-binary’ and ‘Gender-fluid’ are branded across the domain as common-place terminology. The identification of issues relating to austerity and prostitution. Defiance of the Police and to some degree presenting criminal activity as the norm. The skate-park melting pot of political views, the politics of the pandemic, Brexit and the decade of austerity enforced on the region. The fun of the banter around the premiership giants which over shadow the terrace dwellings of Everton and Anfield. Lets not forget an infantile giggle at the range of ‘Dickhead’ depictions!

Scatterings

Last of the ashes being washed out to sea

Alison’ partner Dave was lost to the first wave of covid, due to restrictions there where delays to scattering of the ashes. This poem was read before the ashes where scattered at Hilbre Island, Wirral.

Scatterings

Last in the flesh

Heart compress’

Life no longer bless’

My hand, impress


Davy the bus has joined you afar

A few jar’

The afterlife bar

Angels strum classical guitar



Charlie, our aged dog

Mass ailments to catalogue

Playing watchdog

Resting well worn coggs



The Puppy present

A year adjustments

Affection blandishment

His heart, your compartment


We stand shoreward

Moving forward

Love not deferred

You glorious Bastard!


Match day is back

Your team on track

I will show tact

Over yesterdays match


Pubs open as standard

Works open, but staggered

The Grove, change of guard

Your drinking backyard


Across Stanley Park

Everton’s mark

Raffa’s embark’

Goodison Park


The World cup final

66 again for a while

Limited fans, the Wembley mile

Beaten by Italy, but showed style


Few changes; the house

Lights fixed, odd fuse

Mass colour ooze

Remains a madhouse


My star

Loved from afar

Emotion: no bar

From doing my hair

To going up stair’

Your dancing with flair

Joking over a silly mare

Clothes you would wear

Love you would bare



For now, my glorious Bastard!

Alison Little

Louise Bourgeois: Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool offers extended gratification with its first major accessible exhibition since covid restrictions eased: Focus on Louise Bourgeois. The works and gallery, bold faced and vibrant, lay unprocessed by the pandemic. Following our ascent to the second floor aka six full flights of stairs, we encounter a magnificent spider scaling the walls. French-American artist: Louise Bourgeois, exhibits are presented in full sublimity of greatness. Confessional, demon driven, reproducing themes of family dynamics, sexuality and morality. Adjacent to the works of Lucian Freud in the next gallery, but she was in no respects his meagre cognate.

The spider relates to her mother as a weaver, but also through astuteness, safeguarding and industriousness

Observations forthwith, fixating on the spider as we enter the Art rooms. Intense spotlighting ensures the bronze and black patina eight legged creature appears to surmount the gallery facade with ease. Although spiders can be beheld throughout her oeuvre, the ample cast forms did not transpire until she was in her eighties, spider I on display being actualized in the mid nineties. The spider is a customary symbol of her mother, Bourgeois had a troubled upbring just outside of Paris. The Family were French aristocracy, owning an antique tapestry mill within their grounds. Her father took the children’s governess as his mistress, a circumstance in which the entire family, inclusive of her mother, were heedful. She accursed her father  over the too soon death of her beloved mother when Bourgeois was only twenty years old. The spider relates to her mother as a weaver, but also through astuteness, safeguarding and industriousness. Cruxes of family dynamics, sexuality and morality run throughout her works.

Per contra, the image is dominated by the female form, the overblown scale of her impregnated womb and doctored bosom

Couple 2007, shows Bourgeois returning to themes of motherhood, fertility and copulation which she explores throughout her 70 year span as an artist. Struggling with fertility personally, Bourgeois’ eldest son was adopted as she had been advised she was unable to conceive. Subsequent to the adoption, she gave birth to two further sons without medical intervention. A leading figure within the Fight Censorship Group, founded in the seventies as a response to local authority threats to close a show: ‘The Sexual Politics of Feminist Art’. Throughout her work Bourgeois flaunted the image of an erect penis, Couple 2007 a prominent architype. Per contra, the image is dominated by the female form, the overblown scale of her impregnated womb and doctored bosom. Use of reds are frequent within the period produced, when she was mature in years and beyond the time of fertility. The use of gouache, wet on wet, forms natural, unrestricted marks. Bourgeois early career portrayal of genitalia paved the way for feminist artist such as Judy Chicago. Positioned in a row of similar works from her later period, the wall space of the arts complementing the success of the floor based creations. 

Gorged fabric presents us with a male, highly detailed phallic form

Single II suspends from the ceiling as we transcend the gallery space. Corpse-like, oversized, headless and only an indication of hands and feet, however unquestionably a human form. Bourgeois uses the arch as a symbol of hysteria within her works, highlighted most prominently in ‘Triptych for red room’. On initial inspection the gorged fabric presents us with a male, highly detailed phallic form. Dellaria is often associated as only a female trait, is she implying that the male can become equally frenzied? However, on near-at-eye probe we have additional female sex organs in the area where the head would be positioned. This suggests an exploration of the links between man and woman, a recurring theme throughout her practice. The arch can also be seen as a symbol of tension where muscles are stained to their limits. Is this an example of a climax through orgasm, but of an isolated occasion contrast to the couplet sculpture where the couple are in coitux?

These works allow for us to gain vast insight into Bourgeois mental conditioning. The affection for the industrious spider, her mother. Antagonism toward her father and his mistress: Sadie, the governess. The period of depression after the death of her mother which turned her away from maths and science and towards art. The seventy year span as an artist, many exhibits created during the twilight years. Undeniably, one of the most far-reaching artists of the twentieth and early twenty-first century.

Exhibition continues until the 16th September, booking essential due to restrictions.

https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-liverpool

The Hattery Murals

The Hattery murals is a commision applied for by the artist: Alison Little, for Stockport Town Centre.


The Hattery Murals

Each mural is introduced with a famed Pankhurst purple feather. A Mother of the region who undoubtedly purchased many hats fashioned at the Stockport mills. We are then released into an array of millinery dating from its rise in the region in the sixteenth century until modern day, beyond the doleful decline.

The popular silk top hat draws parallels with the growth of the silk production in the industrial mills of the urban landscape. The Battersby Hat proffers its presence with a rare charm and a far-flung distance from the nearby filming of the former soap character of Les. The 1600’s popular trend of the Welsh Hat introduces the suggestion of felt production technique. Perched in place is the flat cap: iconic of the nineteen twenties and increasingly modern day. Floral creations commonplace in publications of Hatters Gazette in its heyday of the Forties entices us further. Pinks of Wedding and the familiarity of sequins in Underbanks pulls in the Ladies. The retro nature of the stores and art markets on view through the headscarf and the magic of the Stockport County bobble beanie. Florescencies of the bucket hat reminiscent of the gatherings of the eighties which took place in the early day of what was to become the acid house rave scene.

The backing tone simulated is of Stockport council, the greens merging into maroons at the lower section. Ideally, for production to have two sections of marine ply laser cut to the dimensions of the window arches. Work takes place in the artist studio, hand painted in acrylics then finish with a hard coating of yacht varnish. Panels to be fitted and any alteration to occur on site.

Rape Reform

During the last six months we have witnessed massive changes proposed toward the authorities over the handling of rape cases. The ‘End to End’ rape review was published, putting forward substantial reform to the approach to sexual violence by the Police and CPS. Sarah Everand, the abduction, rape and murder of this blameless woman by a serving Police Officer saw convulses of dismay and colosal out pourings of grief. As a response, mass protests against violence towards women took place throughout the Nation. The most momentous was in Clapham Common, London, near to where Sarah was seized. Afresh, we encountered merciless treatment of the peaceful protestors by the Metropolitan Police. 

Are the reforms proposed being acted upon?

Are the Police force being monitored effectively?

Are women safe at the hands of the law?

The ‘End to End’ Rape review was published for public viewing in June of this year. The report proffers copious proposals, noatably; the figures for rape cases being prosecuted in court, return to the levels of 2016. Progress around survivor engagement and the timeliness of the procedure at all phases. Safeguarding more convoluted cases, ensuring they are not being forsaken due to the feasibility of a conviction. Cases steeped in merit to be referred to the CPS by the Police and the necessity to upturn public assurance of resolutions given by the prosecuting agency. An escalation of early guilty pleas culminating in reduced trauma for survivors. The level of trauma for court proceedings for a survivor surpasses that of the initiatory violation. Curbs on requests for information, mainly digital, to be limited to what is reasonable. Moves away from what was dubbed the ‘Digital strip search’ and further analysis of how the report eminently criticized the Police for focussing investigations on the survivor, contrary to the perpetrator.

The abduction, rape and murder of Sarah Everard, in spring of thid year has marked a key junction in campaigning for the end of violence towards women. Sarah, a thirty-three year old female, disappeared while walking home through Clapham after spending an evening with friends. Her bludgeoned corpse was located a week later in woodland in Kent. A forty-eight year old serving Police Officer: Wayne Couzens, was arrested, charged and has subsequently submitted a guilty plea in court. Questions were asked as to why he was employed as a Police Officer. His nickname was ‘The Rapist’ and he has been suspected of indecent exposure on three occasions. 

On the evening of Saturday the 15th of March mass protests took place up and down the UK. The most substantial was concentrated around the bandstand on Clapham Common, close to where Sarah had been subjugated. The Duchess of Cambridge: Kate, attended the vigil earlier in the day to pay heed with flowers. Despite being peaceful, the gathering was deemed illegal due to covid restrictions. The Metropolitan Police pillaged the protest, women were lambasted and many detained needlessly. Notably, electrifying redhead: Patsy Stevenson, pommelled to the ground haphazardly, then brutishly handcuffed in full view of Global media. Calls for Cressida Dick, the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police, to resign were voiced. Apologies were given by herself but no offers to vacate her post were volunteered. There has been further speculation in her involvement in other Police corruption matters since the spring. 

In Liverpool, proposals to assemble for a kindred vigil were relinquished, the event was coerced into the virtual spectrum. The event organiser was issued with a ‘Cease to Desist’ letter by Merseyside Police, the former deputy Mayor; Anne  O’Byrne        who was assisting enabling the protest to go ahead received a similar warning from the authorities. The organiser was then to meet with Serena Kennedy who has superseded Andy Cooke as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police. Some optimism over the plight of Rape Survivors can be gained from female leadership.

Six weeks forward from the recommendations of the report in a Nation still in the latter days of the pandemic, real changes are implausible. Will any advances  be prevalent in six months and will there be hope for the next generation? Should the ‘Digital strip search’ have been allowed to submerge in the first instance? Is returning the prosecution of rapists to 2016 levels going far enough? Should the suitability of an individual for a Public Protection role not have already been considered before the deadly conduct of Wayne Couzens. What is coherent is that a corner has been turned and any actions and recommendations can only be considered positive towards the plight of rape survivors.

Fun in Acapulco: the Planter

‘Fun in Acapulco’ planter is artist: Alison Little latest commission. Bring colour, glory and a latino vibe to the streets of the UK.

‘Fun in Acapulco’ was the top grossing movie of 1963 in the US. A musical, starring Elvis as a lifeguard come hotel singer.

Presley didn’t actually travel to Mexico, a stunt double was used and filming with the star was completed in LA. The entertainer had been declared a ‘Person non grata’ by the Mexican authorities. This was due to rioting after an earlier release, his records had been banned from Mexican airwaves and publicly burnt in El Zocalo town square.

The planter delights in the film, replicating the billing poster. Lilies finish off the piece, blooming in full delight.

Commissions start at £80

Brunswick Bridge: Dock

A photo journey around Brunswick docks in Wirral.

Bridge pivots into place
Elevate, gravitate
Filtered access askew
Strength of the structure
Victorian gateway to dock
Now: thoroughfare: office lets
Hooped together
A set of three
Geometrics of modernism
Three again!
Life rings tossed
Discarded among waste
Road markings anew
Diagonals of direction
Graffiti of misguidance
Lined graphics, business park
Place to perch
Escape from conferencing
House of Wirral Water
Dropped into place
Palette loaded
Original features in place
Waters of dock, oiled by shipping
Backed by industries of old
Waterlogged short ways
Grit and weed engrained
Lined up, awaiting lifting
Once rang out
Masses flat-capped workers
Days start, days end



Photography and Words

Alison Little

Where the Crawdads Sing

If this is one of the books you were intending to read over lock down, but were yet to get to the novel, leave it no longer. A magnificent novel, covering so many proceedings from a young girl coming of age, to rape, to murder, to the justice system. A love story, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama intertwining through one narrative.

A love story, a murder mystery and a courtroom drama

This is Delia Owens: the author’s, initial fictional novel, although she has been published widely over the study of wildlife within Africa. She learned courage during her formative years in South Georgia from her parents. The title came from an expression of her mothers:

‘Go Play yonder where the Crawdads Sing’

An intensely illusionary use of the language, the wilds of marsh visualised within the mind of the reader. Characters which we get to know and see grow through the novel, those we miss when we have finished reading.

Go Play yonder where the Crawdads Sing

We follow the journey of a young girl: Kya from birth to her eventual death. The survival of abject poverty to becoming self-sufficient from a tender age. A lifestyle of isolation where only one day of school is ever attended, self taught and assisted by a boy who will become her lifelong partner. Artwork and literal understandings of her engagements with marine life are published widely. We encounter many aspects of marginalisation, but ultimately ‘Swamp Girl’ was to the waterways of North Carolina, what ‘Stig’ was to the dump: where she belonged and thrived. 

‘Swamp Girl’ was to the waterways of North Carolina, what ‘Stig’ was the dump.

Where the Crawdads sing is to be made into a film to be produced by Reese Witherspoon. Delia has met with Reece and is very optimistic about the movie and the portrayal of Kya. Filming in the marshlands of North Carolina is due to start later in the year. She has also begun work on a second novel, again set in remoteness, but this time the wilds of Florida.


A narrative of twists where the justice of literature wins in righteousness over the legal system of mid-century America. Literary fiction at its greatest, but could easily be read on a rainy day of your staycation. Don’t leave it on your ‘Next lock-down’ list and get reading!

Sleet Feet: Hot off the Press

‘Sleet Feet’ an extract from the novel, Causal Nexus, being penned by Alison Little arrived in print earlier in the month. ‘The Survivor Zine’ presents the frozen trainered teen in the publication.

Holly Ambrose has written for, edited and produced ‘The Survivor Zine’ in full glory of print. The collection of fiction, art and interviews aims to end the silence of shame around sexual violence. All content has been created by sexual violence survivors providing a platform for creativity. 

‘Causal Nexus’ is in the final stages of being edited by the author: Alison Little. The novel follows the journey of a girl from infancy to adulthood and her battle with sexual abuse, rape and the aftermath of her experiences. Final re-scribblings being made as the manuscript travels to publishing houses across the UK.

https://www.thesurvivorzine.co.uk/

Gettin’ the brasses cleaned up!

Stating clearly, by ‘Gettin’ the brasses cleaned up’ we don’t mean sending sex workers to rehab. Sorting out a ‘Tarnished knob’ doesn’t refer to a visit to speak to the professionals at the S.T.D clinic. We are discussing polishing up your household brasswares, the armoury which alines your front door. 

Tarnished knob

The Game Plan

The best mode is to strip off the brass collections, including the fixtures, fittings, bolts and screw plates. Prepare a bucket of boiling water, add a couple of tablespoons of citric acid and a splash of white wine vinegar. Citric acid is freely available in supermarkets, some chemists and home brew shops in particular. 

Couple of tablespoons of citric acid and a splash of white wine vinegar

Soak the brasses overnight, ensuring you don’t forget a shuffle around before beddie byes!

the frisky bit

Next, the frisky bit, remove any tarnishing, turquoise colourings, using wire wool. Wearing work gloves is advocated, not critical, but without PPE you are left with a multitude of miniature nicks on the hardy finger tips.

The application of trusty brasso, the next move, leave on for around an hour then buff-up vigorously with an age-old yellow duster. Black handed, re-attach the wares to the faithful front door.

Ca-ching!

Why tho?

So, Looking betterer than hers next door not floating your boat?

Visualise the smile of satisfaction which will take over your face and your life longs friend gleam at you exclaiming,‘I am humble no more!’ as you enter your home.