Block Works

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Block Works is the latest concept based practice from Alison Little: comprising of a series of sculptural forms which represent areas of urban residence. An ethnology process where collections of discarded objects are cemented together in block form. The artifacts are selected and encased in the common urban material offering an explanation of those who occupy the city space, their lifestyles and methods human existence.

Everton Block Works engages our attention with the towering form of the engine suspension system, reflecting the second-hand car culture commonplace within the area. Several narcotics smoking devices emerge from the upper surface, indicating drug use within the external environment. Homelessness or the misguided pursuits accountable as youth culture. Contrasted by the healthy activities of dog walking, shown by a lead and enhanced by an exercise equipment suspension spring. An adjacent feather shows the ever present urban pigeon, commonplace within cities globally. The top surface encases a heavy industrial ring, accompanied by screw findings, rope matter throughout the form. Manual work being common with local inhabitants. Child’s playthings are present, but items from £1 stores from lower-income families. The edges of the block are lined by food consumer packaging waste: crisp packets, fizzy and alcoholic drinks cans. A suburb where the unhealthy diet is prominent and drink alcohol a persistent activity. The greens and grays of the blocks finish reflect the mix of residential and urban green space which dominates the Everton area.

The top section of Anfield Block Works is entangled by the dynamics of a discarded cable. Other electric wastes reflect a culture where the inhabitants are happy to discard debris freely. An array of drinks top illustrates further examples of poor diet, however, an exercise water bottle top suggests healthy activities. This is joined by a dog toy and tennis ball, positive pursuits within a leisure space. Again, a pigeon feather evidence of urban wildlife. Examples of gambling additions within the district can be drawn from the miniature blue pen of the bookies. Wire wool, cable systems and sponge matter indicating manual tasks occurring within the outdoor spectrum. The Liverpool football stadium ‘Anfield’ being a central hub of the district. The inflatables from match-days, the drinks straws from spectators present in the block formed in the shadows of the Kop. The final colour showing a degraded range of greens and blacks, an urban green space heavily polluted by the traffic of the stadium.

The Block Works Collection with expand across the city and further afield. More collections with be collated, encased and presented as representations of the city and occupants.

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Convict Blanket

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Convict blanket is the latest art activism works from concept-based arts practitioner, Alison Little. A sensation to shock and stand against rape, rape culture and the authorities put in place to tackle sex crime within our society.

Convict blanket confronts us with the homage style of using material available, in this case, the humble scratch provoking woollen coverings of the bed. The use of blanket stitch and appliqué reminiscent of techniques used in prison protests where all resources must be reclaimed from the sparse provisions available when incarcerated. The blanket is floor-based, slightly raised to one side. The text and images locate with the nearest edge in which they are placed, allowing the viewer to read the statements as their paths encircle the form. The use of hand-embroidered text reminiscent of the marker pen on corrugated card portrayals commonplace throughout activism. Texts vary in scale, case and font in regards to the emphasis placed on the statement which is being presented. Large bold statements often present definitive assertions, small joined-up style wording is often examples of dialogue and opinions of the minority. The black text looks to address how to reduce the numbers of sex attacks by convicting more rapists. In opposition, the red highlights issues within society and the authorities put in place to tackle sex crime which are failing at every given opportunity. Although male rape is equally as relevant, this identifies with female rape which is statistically committed in greater numbers.

The first of the black text presents a printed abbreviation, ‘HMP‘. This is commonplace within the UK, ‘Her Majesties Prisons’ being the full term and the title for units of incarceration. The larger appliqué fonts present ‘Convict‘ and ‘Rapist‘, indicating an intention for more sex offenders to be serving custodial sentences. This is emphasized in greater detail by a well-defined corner based statement:

We must press for the conviction of more rapists.’

A powerful sentence, stating the motivation behind the activism, the use of the second person to engage the viewer with the protest.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is common among rape survivors is raised within smaller statements. Dressing down as a result of being raped is proposed, backed up by an image of a ‘Hide under’ hoodie. Larger texts draw attention to statistics:

‘1 in 10 rapes are reported to the Police, of these only 1 in 10 lead to a conviction.’

Due to current changes within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) this figure is currently much lower. The statistic highlights how rape is one of the most under-reported crimes. The statement is reinforced by the pie chart indicating that only 1% of rapes committed lead to a conviction.

Patriarchy is addressed, male supremacy being a factor in why rape is not being tackled effectively. Police apathy over sexual assault cases is presented. Demands towards the recruitment of ‘Strong, capable women,’ are made, requesting women who will prioritise rape over trivia to be brought into the Police Force. Drawing attention to the vulnerability of the rape survivor, showing how there needs should be prioritized. The black statements concluding with the most vital statement of them all, the rapist being ‘100%‘ to blame for rape.

The red text looks to highlight why our society is failing to reduce numbers in terms of sexual assault and punishing more sex offenders through the penal system. The large appliqué terms read ‘Rape Culture’ and ‘Victim Blaming’. Across the blanket, we have statements which highlight examples of victim-blaming, itself a factor within rape culture. Projections of low morals, promiscuous clothing, the rape survivor being presented as ‘The Whore’ and extreme example of ‘Slut-shaming’ are identified. Misconceptions around PTSD are given, many are still not aware that this condition is commonplace with rape survivors. The second delusion of rape being unusual is also stated. Narcotic and alcohol use are presented, suggestions that mild cannabis inhalation could result in hallucinations an example of ignorance. Again, blaming the victim through alcohol consumption, the concept of consenting to sex being overlooked.

Patriarchy being stated, showing the focus of the law to be on protecting men from being falsely accused of rape. How the Police Force is male-dominated, the notion of many of these ‘Men’ having little intentions of acting against rape, in this, recruiting weak, feeble women to actively fail rape survivors. This is developed by drawing attention to the actions of many Police Women, their sole contribution to a rape enquiry to be establishing what happens when they get dressed up, thus providing the opportunity for them to reflect on their superior beauty. The trivial nature of operatives, examples of attire being copied being prioritised as opposed to communicating the nature of the sex attack. This is matched by their counterparts, Policemen, many are only interested in their prowess, continually falsifying reports on how the rape survivor is attracted to themselves. Looking at the attitudes of Police personnel, those who feel that they are not expected to do anything in a rape case, the extremities being the role of the rape victim to protect and shelter vulnerable officers.

Ultimately, the saddest statement of all:

‘It was my fault I was rapped.’

The victims who blame themselves, a factor in why so many crimes are not reported to the authorities.

‘Convict Blanket’, innovative works, at the helm within the spectrum of art activism. Artwork which can challenge misconceptions around rape, concepts which can address issues in society and confront the authorities put in place to act against rape. Ultimately, ‘Convict Blanket’ will lead to the conviction of more rapists, reducing rape crime and proposes a safer society.

Convict Blanket will be exhibited from spring 2020.

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Small Steps and Art Activism

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Last Thursday saw Small Steps events take over Make on North Liverpool Docks.

Small Steps runs events to highlight social issues through the arts. Last Thursday saw an eclectic mix of performance, a breathtaking visual arts exhibition and engaging workshops drawing attention to Mental Health.

Cork-based artist Ann Mechelinck showed us how craft-based practice can highlight mental health issues with several pieces she exhibited at Make. Mechelinck spent many years living and working in Belgium as an administrator. On her return to Ireland, she decided to re-engage with her creative passions and began a body of study Crawford College in Cork. The most prominent of her works in the exhibition was ‘Release’. In this, she explores the restrictions we face in life by materialism, relationships and expectations. Using a knotted structure which she allows this to
‘Release’ free onto the floor. An exceptional fibre artist using structuring techniques to explore mental well-being.

Rebecca Hancock brought some intensely scratched text art to the exhibition. Hancock is a recent graduate from Central St Martins in the Capital. She uses her work to express; fantasies, hopes and dreams, but equally, vulnerability, anxieties and fears. The work exhibited ‘March 2016-Present Day’ presents hand scribed re-writing of eight months of diary entries. The period covers changes in medication and severe depressive episodes combined with panic attacks and anxiety. Raw, unmoderated, expression of coping and not coping with evolving cerebral turmoil.

We were taken on a journey by Moscow based film-makers Diana Galimzyanova and Artem Gavrilyuk-Bozhko. Galimzyanova’ rapidly expanding collection of award-winning short films have been shown at more than sixty festivals and fifteen countries. ‘Painting the Abyss’ came to Make last week stunning its audiences. The actor begins to paint his face with a light reflection of a cross central to the screen. As black is added the face paints formate into a type of warpaint, a kind of camouflage. As this progresses, old-dated, black and white train travel scenes are superimposed onto the footage. The narrative climaxes as the actor drops his head back and looks towards the ceiling. He marks a cross on each side of his neck indicating where to cut was an assumed knife. This progresses into the removal of the paints from the face. Powerful use of moving image which confronts us with the grim realities of ending one’s life.

Painting the Abyss

Not forgetting the painted works of Philip Chandler identifying with long-term depression. Gender roles were challenged by the embroideries of Jonathan Beavon. The floor space was occupied by another showing of Alison Little’ SV: Sex by Violence in Liverpool.

A remarkable exhibition, a fully engaging evening and evidence that art activism can make a real difference.

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Small Steps

Make

Ann Mechelinck

Rebecca Hancock

Diana Galimzyanova

Augustus: Head

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Augustus: Head is a flash fiction works in response to the Meroe Head of Augustus which was exhibited at the Victoria Museum and Gallery in Liverpool earlier in the year.

Augustus: Head

He stands above us
Looking down
Piercing eyes
Looking through us to a greater existence
Baby-faced, framed with cropped curls
Winged ears arch out
The emperor to become God

‘I am your leader
I will conquer
You will support me’
Head of Augustus

Ruler, the time of Christ
Mediterranean made Empire
The riches of Egypt conquered.

Trophy head taken
Conquering Sudan
A one-eyed queen
Buried beneath Temple steps
Walked on
Trodden over
Belittled, degraded
The Conqueror was conquered

August is still August
A God he remains
The Empire has crumbled
But the Head still stands tall

 

Alison Little

More about the Meroe Head of Augustus

 

Keys

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Keys is the latest flash Fiction work from Alison Little.

Keys

Around us we are surrounded by keys, hung from every section, floating around, spinning. Shadows brightly identified by the white surfaces which are the parameters of our encasement in this heaven -like cell. The keys float and dangle head height like angels in an outer world. The jingles and rattling almost ghost-like, jitters of evil coming to take us from the purity of our setting. Clattering faster and faster, more and more in motion together, louder and louder, machine gun like in battle, will we be taken?

Subtly they quieten down, jingle in serenity again, bell-like, the instruments of the piano, not one of the devils jailers on a dictated mission to take us to him. We are safe within the white purity of our surroundings, the playful clacking of the brass and steel instruments of secure captivity. The tags which identify their uses, the fobs which fumble and the enlarged shadows which follow their leaders every move. Sounds which surround, which inform, which provide safety but exclude us from freedom.

A dreamscape of soulfulness suspended in our vision and the recipients of the routes of sound waves. Serenity, shadows and the safety of celebration.

Alison Little

Keys was written in response to an art installation all named ‘Keys’ created by Raymon Watson for the History of Hands exhibition held at the Victoria Gallery & Museum in Liverpool. In this, a collection of keys originally from the Crumlin Road Prison were suspended and used in conjunction with a sound installation. The exhibition ran from the 10.03.18-21.04.18.

History of Hands Exhibition

Victoria Gallery & Museum