Artists took to the streets, walls became canvas, spray cans became brushes and the theme became covid. Concepts around mortality parallel the realities of the daily death toll. Political in nature, demaining protection from the virus and gratitude towards key workers.
‘Covid will kill us all’ reflects a mortal state and the demise of the human race. Subjugated by the presence of discarded household items. The era when the home became the full domain, the clear out of draws, wardrobes, combined with the rearranging of lofts. Commodities no longer of use are abandoned, charity shop closures led to an abundance of fly tipping. Evictions due to the pandemic, when mass unemployment soured, many being left to transport their possessions in the multi-facetted shopping trolley.
‘Shield Us’ strategically positioned on Princess Park gates in Liverpool. The park was central to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests held last summer in response to the killing of George Floyd. Superbly inscribed on pure white cotton, the image of the shield supplemented by the ironwork of the historic gates and the sun beaming down onto the spectrum. A political message, demanding the authorities protect us from the raging virus!
We look toward what can be considered little more vandalism, lacking in any artistic credentials. However, the badly sprawled message looks to thank the NHS (National Health Service, UK). Reflecting the global trend of mass gratitude towards medical staff and nurses in particular. The ‘Clap for carers’ spirit which overtook our Thursday evenings straggled onto the closed security shutters of our shopping streets.
Street art has been with us since Roman times, modern graffiti routing from the US in the 1960’s, extending worldwide by Hollywood. Mainly produced by suburban, teenage males, these works depict the mental health concerns of our youths. The Mental Health Foundation and Swansea University have shown anxiety and depression to be much higher among young people over the pandemic.
When cultural events moved on line we found vibrancy in the real art of the street. The subculture of discidency of graffiti gave a political voice to those determined to violate coronavirus restrictions. Covi’ffiti, an artistic response to the pandemic.
The Liverpool Tool Library is the first in the north west of England and the brainchild of pioneering creative: Imogen Woolley. Everything from High tech angle grinders to simple adjustable spanners, allen keys to airbrush compressors, car jump leads to otherworldly circular saws are there to be hired. DIY for the home, garden, car and the ‘Pandemic’ popular’ push bike. All available to loan from the conveniently located Aspen Yard workshop in the developing, all too trendy ‘Tocky’.
Originally from the Yorkshire Mill town of Halifax, Imogen ventured down to the capital to complete a degree in illustration and animation. Family ties brought her to Liverpool a place she now considers home. In sharing her home based workshop and tools with friends and family she began to see the demand for publicly accessible tool hire. The concept of the Liverpool Tool Library was conceived when holidaying in Canada. Avoiding the usual tourist trail sights and activities she was directed to a tool Library. On her return to Merseyside she began what was to become three years of planning, to launch a parallel service for Merseyside.
The building was originally stables, we are informed, horses but there is some speculation over an odd cow. The Tool library received some funding from Liverpool Soup and the School of Social Entrepreneur (SSE). Edinburgh tool library was extremely supportive in terms of guidance and the donation of a whopping 150 tools, enough to get the project up and running.
Opening during National Lockdown was an enormous risk, the results were fruitful. She was concerned over putting members in jeopardy and the technical guidance was ambiguous and ever changing. However, with the mass negotiation of homeworking, furlough schemes and the unfortunate reality of being laid off for many, resulted in a surge of home improvement projects and DIY. Regrettably she was not able to involve the local community as much as intended, due to restrictions. As soon as the big boys of B&Q, threw open their sanitised doors she swiftly followed suit. In line with the NHS: 5 steps to mental wellbeing, the tool library is exactly what is called for to bolster us through these times of Covid.
In the future she is intending to provide a workspace and to enable skill share sessions. Some of these are to be targeted towards women only, enabling a space where females can communicate without being diminished by men. Other challenges are to encourage parent and child groups and uptake from marginalised groups. Interestingly, take up of membership has been around fifty, fifty in terms of gender, already a rebalance of the male dominated traditions of tool handling.
You can become a member by linking to their website, a quick and simple process. The membership fee is a suggested donation of £20 annually and it is recommended that you pay what you can afford either side of that. The fee enables the day to day running of the library which includes fixing and maintaining tools, rent, and storage solutions. The tools are then free to hire on a weekly basis from Saturday to Saturday.
Join today, take a look at the inventory and request the tools you desire, then brighten the Aspen yard door next Saturday!