Rags, the Boutique does Southport

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Last Saturday saw the fun of Rags Boutique at Southport Festival.

For the magic-themed festival we created an array of high standing wizard hats, a collection of mushroom masks. Black cats masqueraded and a troop of unicorns topped everything off.

Alison Little started Rags Boutique workshops over a decade ago as part of Bold Street development as consumers were flocking to the newly opened Liverpool 1 and retailers were losing custom. She then found a temporary home for the workshops and an exhibition venue in The Old Paint shop, Rapid. The workshop has grown from strength to strength making appearances at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool and the Museum of Liverpool on several occasions.

Last weekend it was Southport’ turn and it livened up Mermaid gardens in the traditions of Lord Street. Southport Festival takes place in early May, lining the streets with arts, dance, music and comedy.

More about Southport Festival

Much fun was had on the streets of much loved Southport.

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Contemporary Art Smoothie

Cont art smoothie copy

Process milk from Damien Hirst calf ensuring it is free from formaldehyde.

Add some melon from Sarah Lucas’ Au Naturel, tell her to stop ‘Eating a Banana’ and combine to the fluid.

Juice things up with some KY Jelly from Tracey Emin’ bed.

Technique: turn everything inside out the way Rachel Whiteread did with ‘House’.

Pour over ice into one of Grayson Perry’ pots.

Tell Antony Gormley’ men from Another Place to line up and wait to be served.

Nest in a Goats Beard

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Nest in a Goats Beard is an abstract print produced by Carmen Garcia. It is currently being exhibited as part of the ‘She Eclectic’ exhibition at the Victoria Museum and Gallery in Liverpool. This is a section of flash fiction created by Alison Little as a response to the piece:

The image topples round, propelled up by some kind of yellow bubble making machine launching abstract forms. Patterns which expand, texture which can be touched. The machine: a cross between the yellow submarine and the Liverpool tower. A gigantic but equally girly form. Almost folding out, mounts, triangles positioned above the ground. The main form taking the shape of a sixties modernist detached estate disappearing downhill as it stretches away. Floating forms emerge, a kind of balloon making cartoon pistol firing out at comic-strip enemies. A fun-filled water game set within a reclaimed play arena. The form of a shoulder combined with a jumper suit, powering over engrossed in the imaginary of re-enactment.

North End Writers is based from the Victoria Museum & Gallery, holding their monthly meeting there last weekend. The writers read extracts which were written in response to works in the exhibition in the Gallery Space:

The Readings

More about She’s Eclectic

 

A Letter to your Former Self

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‘A Letter to your former self’ was a prompt for a sketch. It comprises of a mixed media image, pen and ink in addition to hard and soft pastels which are fully exploited. The figure representing the artist is almost angelic as it rises above the dangers of the personalities depicted below. The people are given the surround of an inferno to show the evil nature of their ways.

First, on the left we are presented with a girl who’s hair is entrenched by grease. From her mouth, vomit in projecting or possibly lies. A man, colossal in scale stands next to her, clothed in a T-Shirt brandishing Maine County. His body actions appear to be jerk driven and almost overacted. The face is blocked out, the visualisation of the facial features in denied, possibly a survival mechanism. Dreadlocks take control of the next character, malnourished but extremely confident through his stance, a drug dealer perhaps. We then see the image of a bore rising up, unfitting with the other figures. Centrally located, is a small but shifty character, the eyes look stoned as he hides under a well-worn woollen hat. A push-up bra babe then slots her way in, a true beauty with large eyes to match her breasts. Adjacent a geometrically formed man with glasses to match is present. One of his legs appears to be shorter than the other, a birth defect perhaps. A large, overweight women take over the majority of the space available. The next bound security pass shows her profession: a social worker, the fat drizzled features of her face depicting a falsehood of caring. Penultimately, the row is finished off with a dangerous man associated with the RAF. The final member of those present is a soldier, possibly a Para slotting his head into the image.

In ‘Letter to my former self’ the girl tells herself to avoid any other the characters, to rise above and not to allow any of them to cause her harm.

The sketch was completed by Alison Little, the prompt was provided by Allyson Bright:

30 days of Art Journaling Class

 

The Liverpool Mountain

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Does the luminosity of the latest contemporary public art form in Liverpool turn you on or off?

Ugo Rondinone, the Swiss-born, New York-based artist has gifted his work to the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool.

The multi-coloured stack of rocks finished off with a T section had been sited on the waterfront, nestled beside the Tate Liverpool for almost four weeks now. The sculpture was commissioned to mark ten years since the Capital of Culture, twenty years of the Biennial and thirty years of Tate Liverpool.

Other works by the artist have included seven mountains, simpler luminous rock stacking forms, located just outside Vegas. Initially unpopular, Sixteen million visitors later its safe to say it has won over the public. Will the Liverpool mountain win the hearts of the art-loving Scouse city dwellers? Will it become an icon of the city like the initially revered Superlambanana?

The form is said to be based on a combination of ancient totem poles, medieval rock balancing and hoodoos. Hoodoos being rock spirals formed from weathering over centuries, commonplace in the desert of the United States. So do the seven mountains in Nevada seem fitting in their location in ways the Liverpool Mountain does not?

Do the aesthetics of the colour choice resemble the artistry of a primary school pupil first being given luminous paint in the eighties then deciding all the colours must be used at once?

The verdict: It certainly does brighten up a drizzly day on the docks. Let’s wait and see if the luminosity of the Liverpool mountain turns on the cities art lovers.

Photos Credits to Jamie Pickering.

Ugo Rondino

Liverpool Biennial

Tate Liverpool

Ensigns make a mark at the Museum

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Last Saturday saw a line of children and adults, tots and basically those mortal getting involved with the fun of flag making. The last weekend of the Liverpool Irish Festival took the Rags Boutique workshop to the contemporary interior to the Museum of Liverpool.

A wonderful day spent with a colourful bag recycling project on the iconic waterfront. We saw identities being identified through the Greens of Ireland, the Red, White and Blue of Britain and the Purples of Feminism.

Flagpoles on the hole of the day and adults which showed us they still knew how to play dress up!

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Sylvia Pankhurst

 

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The mural commission was proposed by Alison Little for the Trafford House in Manchester.

Commission proposal

Sylvia Pankhurst

The mural design incorporates elements of Sylvia’s work and beliefs which represent a life which was truly courageous. Towards the lower section, we have the icon slogan ‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ and the colour bands of green and purple which were used throughout the Sufferage Movement. Sylvia’s mother, Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the Movement and her daughters followed in her footsteps. The top logo is an adaption of the ‘Angel of Freedom’ motif designed by Sylvia for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Central to the design is the grid, an adaption of the Holloway Brooch, symbolising how she was imprisoned more times than any of the women involved with the reform work. The dove image reflects her views towards pacifist, the traditional symbol of peace. Her philanthropic work is shown through the milk bottles and the distribution centre she set up in London’s East End. Sexual freedom is presented through the red ring, symbolising how she never married. The final image is of an Ethiopian women carrying a child on her back, the last years of Sylvia’s life were spent in the country, again helping the needy. 

‘VOTES FOR WOMEN’ is the most iconic slogan of the Suffrage movements fight for equality. The initial slogan was in fact:

‘Will the Liberal Party give votes for women.’

However, the initial banner produced with this phrase was too cumbersome to carry on protest marches so it was reduced into a shorter format. The colour bands of green and purple present around the slogan and to the upper section reflect the colours used by the WSPU. Their colours were purple, white and green, purple as regal colour showing the Royal blood which ran through the veins of every Suffragette, purity is indicated by the white and green be present as an emblem of hope and the symbol of spring. Sylvia’s mother, Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the WSPU and the radical campaigner iconic for women winning the vote in Britain. All three of her daughter were strongly involved in the movement and continued to work toward equality after the passing of their mother. They were lifelong campaigners and a truly remarkable family.

The top logo is a simplified adaption of the ‘Angel of Freedom’ designed by Sylvia in 1911 to promote a demonstration to be held at the Royal Albert Hall. Sylvia was initially at Manchester School of Art, located not far from the intended location of the mural, then she travelled down to London the attend the Royal College of Art. Much of her early works reflect her philanthropical interests through the painting of working-class women. As an artist, she was presented with numerous awards, however, inevitably her visual arts work was overshadowed by her Political career and her writings on these subjects. The logo has been minimalised due to the height it is intended to be between 30-35 meters at the top of the mural and the detail will not be seen from ground level. The slight misprint where the purple ring is to one side as opposed to central is to be replicated, this reflects the printing processes of the period where this was commonplace. 

The central grid of the mural is a depiction of the Holloway Brooch designed by Sylvia. As a campaigner, Sylvia was imprisoned more times than any of her contemporaries enduring the process of being force-fed. By 1906 she was working full time for the WSPU resulting in months spent in Holloway Prison taking a leading role in the Hunger Strikes. The Holloway Brooch was originally cast in silver, the gates depicted where to represent the Houses of Parliament. It was awarded to WSPU party member who had served sentences in prison and often described as the;
‘Victoria Cross of the Union.’
Be awarded the brooch rewarded to the courage of the women who often spent long sentences in prison, and commonly the women’s prison: Holloway.

The four squares of the gates show images of Sylvia’s beliefs and life’s work. The top image is that of a dove, taken again from a brooch designed by Sylvia to promote peace. She was a dedicated pacifist and from 1910 was continually concerned with the growing levels of militancy used by members of the WSPU and argued with her mother in regards to the mater. This resulted in her braking from the party in 1913 after an arson campaign where the intention was to set fire to the houses of several high profile Politicians. Notably one of these was the Stately home of Lloyd George the current Chancellor of the Exchequer. She was opposed to the break out of the war in 1914 and horrified by her mother and sisters support for the war effort. Speaking at the International Congress of peace held at the Hague in 1915, from this she helped form the Women’s Peace Party. In the years after the First World War, she became a committed anti-fascist: supporting the Republicans in Spain, helped Jews evade Nazi occupation and campaigned against the Italian presence in Ethiopia. 

The representation of milk bottles reflects the philanthropic work in which Sylvia threw herself, a notable project being the milk distribution centre for babies who could not digest food in the East End of London. She continually campaigned for better maternity services and for rights for one parent families. During World War One she helped to set up low-cost restaurants in poorer parts of London. To provide jobs for women who had become unemployed by the war she open a toy factory, this also helped to fill the gap for playthings from Germany. More time was committed to campaigns to help poverty-stricken wives of Soldiers at war. The second initiative with milk played an important part in her work in Ethiopia. UNICEF had been giving milk tokens to mothers but these were simply being sold at the market as they were unsure of how to make the milk from formula. Sylvia made arrangements for making the dried milk with UNICEF, the children queue up as a result of efforts. Continuing into the modern day, the Pankhurst and Manchester Women’s Aid centre in Manchester continues this work today with groups of women suffering from domestic abuse. 

The image of a red ring, almost scraped on in terms of texture, a ring which does not meet at its ends. This represents the sexual freedom which Sylvia experience in an era where this was socially unacceptable. When studying at the Royal College of Art in London she began an affair with Keir Hardie, a leading Politician for the newly established Labour Party. Although his relationship with his wife looked to have disintegrated the bond he formed with Sylvia still in her twenties would have been considered scandalous. Their relationship continued into the First World, after a series of stokes he died after contracting Pneumonia in 1915. Sylvia was then to meet an exiled communist, Silvio Corio, they became lifelong partners and moved to village-come-suburb of Woodford Green together. Sylvia gave birth to a son at the age of forty-five, her mother tried to persuade her to marry Silvio but she wanted to keep her birth name. They argued over the matter and never spoke again. Other motives may have been that during that period women lost their British Nationality if they were to marry someone from outside the UK. If Sylvia and Silvio had been deported to his native Italian they would probably have been executed on grounds of being anti-fascist protestors. The red ring has always been used as an anti-symbol and the manner in which the ring, potentially a wedding ring, does not join represents her desition not to marry.

An Ethiopian mother and child are pictured in the last image of the Gate, this shows the work Sylvia did for the East African country. In 1935 the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie met with Sylvia in the city of Bath. He was in exile from Ethiopia as they were subsumed by Fascist Italy. Italy had begun building a military presence in East Africa, as a devoted anti-Fascist Sylvia was opposed to this and became a great supporter of Ethiopia. After the Second World War, she raised further objections to Britain’s administration of the South Eastern Ogaden, Ethiopia. Although Britain departed in the mid-fifties she continued to spread the anti-colonial message, moving out to Ethiopia in 1956. She spent her time visiting schools, hospitals and development projects. Dying at the age of seventy-eight and was given a State Funeral being made an Honorary Eithiopian.

The mural is to be completed using artists acrylics after an initial cream coat of masonry paint. This finish to be completed with yacht varnish, preferably brush coated. The artist’s fee would be £1000.00 for the design but would need to be completed by a street artist. The design is ready for delivery but modifications may take several weeks.

Silvia Pankhurst was a revolutionary campaigner which is reflected through this mural and the themes which it covers. It will be in keeping with the modernist aspects of the structure but equally, remind us of the rights which were fought for to give us the better world in which we live. Sexual freedom was a liberty which had to be won, how it is acceptable in contemporary society not to marry and to raise children as part of a one parent family. It will inspire feminist ideological thinking and help us move towards equality for women. Artwork which can motive creativity, thoughts around rights towards incarnation and what is occurring in these institutions which is still as relevant today as it was one hundred years later. Thoughts around pacificism, humanitarianism and Britain’s role as a Nation. Philanthropy and how we can give to others more in need in this country and abroad in countries struck by poverty. Equally, the potential to become was Sylvia truly was: a citizen of the World.

A mural which will inspire, motivate and make a real difference.

References:

Sylvia Pankhurst, A crusading Life
1982-1960
Shirley Harrison
Aurum Press
London
2003

http://www.sylviapankhurst.com
A Comprehensive information source
Susan Homewood for Hornbeam Publishing Limited
2008

Mural in location