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 artefacts 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 greys 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 matchdays, 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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A Void

womb

A Void

In this, I have agreed to what was termed ‘A life modelling process’ for an artist seeking volunteers for a project he is working on. I stand before him in my dressing gown, nude underneath and wondering what he wants me to do, he tells me:

‘Don’t worry, I have done this lots of times before.’

From this, I am somewhat reassured, but still, air a little caution.

‘I just need you to lie down so I can paint you with latex.’

In this he shows me the latex, it’s white and when he paints a little of my arm it feels cold but pleasant on my form. I agree to the process and he helps me untie my dressing gown belt, although naked I feel comfortable in front of him, he has put me at ease.

I lie down under his direction and move into the position he needs me to be in. He starts painting around my neck area, slowly but surely working his way down. He is careful but professional as he covers my breasts, making sure he only touches my nipples with the horse hair bristles of the paint brush.

Working his way further down my body he comes to the groin area. I become nervous again, worrying about what he is about to do.

‘Relax, I have done this many times before.’

I let my muscles fall low, then with warm air, he blows gently inside myself. From this, like magic, I open right up like a great white shark about to launch an attack.

‘That’s right, good, you’re doing well.’

He directs, then he moves onto his back and slides his head and upper body inside my womb. From this, he begins to paint, carefully and professionally, coating the walls of my womb and ovaries in latex. When he has finished he edges out carefully and puts each hand delicately on the inside of my legs. Then without touching me with his lips he sucks air from the inside of myself. I return to my normal size, at ease with everything going on, amazed at what has been performed by this genius.

From this, he works down my legs in a similar motion. He then turns me over to work on my back and lower body. So relaxed with the brush motion I am almost asleep when he finishes:

‘We just need to wait for it to dry.’

He whispers, in this, he picks up an old fashioned guitar and begins to sing folk songs.

He wakes me up to tell me that it’s time to peel the latex off. I stand up for him and he begins stretching off the suited coating, carefully going over my breasts. After my ribs he stops and places a hand on each side of myself, then he kisses my forehead, gently and childlike in motion. As I smile he gets back to action, working the form off down to my lower body.

After a gentle shake, my womb falls out. Before me, I see its squashed in structure, perfect on the inner coating, but de-revelled on the outer. My ovaries flop out almost deformed and entwined, messy and forlorn. Ahead of me, I see the babies, I will never give birth to and the children I will never raise. The bedtime stories I will never read, the play parks I will never go to, the football matches I will never go to and the school plays I will never attend. In this he finishes the removal process, then he shakes out the body-like creation. He clips it onto a line, in this, it stands tall and strong, an independent being, strong, singular, but of great value.

Alison Little

A Void is a flash Fiction works from Alison Little. This piece was first performed in the Hornby Rooms, Central Library, Liverpool for International Women’s Day in 2018. The subsequent year it read for an event marking the same celebrations held during the 209 Women exhibition marking the centenary of women being able to vote in the UK (Although restricted to those over 30 and with property).

The illustration was also created by Alison Little using a bamboo dip stick pen and Indian ink. It feature a close up of a womb and creates an impression of scarring. She is looking to make a sculptural piece from latex later in 2020 to represent the works.

More about 209 Women exhibition, Open Eye Gallery

Hand-Held Destinies

Me

Wednesday evening saw the opening of; John Moores Painting Prize, the Rise of the Sixties in Liverpool, at the Exhibition Research Lab of John Moores University. The fresh white interior of the John Lennon Art and Design Building provided the exhibition venue, brought to life by an evening of the performance. Stimulating music, spoken word and monologues were accompanied by illuminating visual arts responses.

Hand Held Destinies is a spoken word piece written and performed by Alison Little on the evening. Created as a response to a photo exhibit from 1968 of two girls playing in the sea shores of New Brighton:

 

Hand Held Destinies

Girls hold hands in friendship.
Gleeful
Elegant in play

Eight years old
Born in 1960
The decade which changed Liverpool, Britain and the World

1960 saw the introduction of the pill
We had effective contraception
Birth Control
The Sexual Revolution
Smaller Families
We got richer

As they play in the swath they are attractive in their childhood. Swimsuits made for play, hair it’s natural colour, tresses they are not afraid to get wet. Sand grit, Sea and the salt of the shores adorn their sun-soaked bodies.

Today we have the modern day falsehood of youth. Primark churning out padded bras for pre-teens. Claire’s accessories piercing collections of hoops and studs to the lobes of innocence. Youthful visions of success; to appear on celebrity love island, becoming a WAG or to acquire a cosmetically enhanced bosom larger than Jordan’s.

An era when British beach holidays ruled the waves. Stripped deckchairs, the bucket and spade, splendour of Punch and Judy. Taken over by the package holiday: routes to the warmer destinations of Southern Europe. Made redundant for a second time by the cheap flights of the digital buyers market.

Background, we have sea vessels and the Albert Dock, it’s function then for shipping. Today, as the girls head to retirement we have shipping in its last days of decline. We have a dock surplus of its intended purpose.

Sea Faring industrialism replaced
A cultural haven
The Waterfront
The Tate
Museum of Liverpool
The Maritime
A new Future
A future of tourists
Culture Vultures
City Breakers
A cheap flight destination
The ‘Must take in’ city of Liverpool
A city revived
An end of mass unemployment
The striking city no more
The legacy of the Capital of Culture Year

Their playscape is now a Metropolis challenging globally.
But to the padded bras, the stud lined ears and fixations with celebrity culture we have the bucket.

A return to the beauty of innocence bathing in the optimism of the future.

Alison Little

 

Exhibition continues throughout April.

More about Research Exhibition Lab

Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.

More about Graham Smillie photography

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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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Hockney Smokney!

Hockney Window


Art carnage at the Abbey!

One of the most acclaimed artists of the twenty and twenty-first century has turned his hand to stained glass window design. The early career John Moores painting prize winner has risen to the height of producing a stained panel design for Britain, if not Europe’s most prestigious Cathedrals: Westminster Abbey. Is this iPad engineered, coloured, lead framed transparency really right for the Nations finest Abbey?

Standing dominantly and not overshadowed by the currently undercover, due to maintenance work, Big Ben, we have Britain’s Westminster Abbey. The ten thousand years plus, a centre of worship, hosts memorials, burial sites and caskets for our Kings and Queens, Hero’s of Warfare, Great Leaders, significant artist, writers and poets, in addition to, and the never to be forgotten, grave of the unknown warrior.

In the long-standing tradition of the Church, they have continued the trend of commissioning contemporary artists and David Hockney had brought the latest of his artistry to stained glass at the Abbey. Hockney is considered one of Britain’s greatest painter, making a valid contribution to the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s he continues to paint across a range of subjects from landscape to portraiture. After a successful solo show at the Royal Academy of Arts earlier in the decade, the exhibition travelled to the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao then to Los Angeles where he has a further two studios. Using the latest iPad technology he designed the window for the Abbey.

The intention of the window is to commemorate the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, our current monarch. The window depicts a rural scene and portrays the affection she feels for the countryside. The window was dedicated by the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall earlier in the month.

Is this really great contemporary visual arts or have a number of mistakes been made rendering the outcome a national blunder? Was the correct position for a modern panel to be on the left hand of a set of three, the other two being of traditional design? Would it not have been better to have fitted three new modern windows or for the Hockney piece to be in an isolated location? Did Hockney consider the existing Gothic Architecture in designing the panel? In comparison the stained glass in the RAF Chapel fitted just over seventy years ago to commemorate the Battle of Britain, why did Hockney to look to produce glass work more in keeping with its surroundings? Are the bright primary colours set against contrasting secondary tones, not a little too bright to work with a period piece? If we were to relocate the panel to a twentieth or twenty-first century designed Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool would it be a well-designed window? Is there any consideration given to the lead structure is is it just some kind of organic jellyfish-like form surrounded by randomly positioned pods which bear no relation to the framework of the glass?

To be frank, a Hockney disaster and simply artistic carnage to the finest one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture we pride ourselves in having created.

The solution: remove, exhibit as a design error and commission a new artist to produce a panel which will work with, not against this National Treasure.

More about David Hockney

Westminster Abbey

Cardboard Castles

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Are you king of your cardboard castle?

Castles were strong fortresses built to withstand invasion. Saxon Castles were wooden structures, mounds of earth now, grassy peaks protruding from the ground level. Still standing up as always but no longer fit for purpose.

The middle ages saw the use of stone to create strongholds were the Lords ruled the battlements. Lines of arches were arrows could be fired from, surrounded by motes and drawbridges to hinder attack.

100 years ago the First World War saw the emergence of new-style fortresses. The underground variety located within the complex network systems of the trenches. Built-in below the surface to withstand the ongoing bombardment. Little mud cabin forms, mantelpiece like structures temporarily decorated with images of loved ones.

A century on what are today’s fortresses: cardboard.

Is this an example of vagrancy? King of the cardboard city. The temporary housing villages created by the nations homeless communities. Safety and security which can be found with others in parallel situations. Warmth and shelter created from communal fires and the cardboard which houses their inhabitants. Every city has a Major, so the underworld must have a King of the Cardboard Castle?

Are cardboard castles a new concept akin to that of the ‘Plastic Gangster’. The king-style leaders of gangland armed with the plastic imitation weapons of infancy. Is it a paradox similar to the new style treble glazing which costs a fortune but claims to pay for itself through savings in fuel bills and rises in property value. The audio version, that can be downloaded, of the book you don’t have to bother reading. A falsehood, a castle which is weather consumable where protection of extreme limitation is offered.

Could the Cardboard castle be a statement for the future: Recyclable. Was the vision created to make a temporary art form, to be consumed by the public, then recycled through the ease of our green processing plants. Is the new King of the Castle to be a leading eco-warrior? Will we be lead towards a sustainable future by environmentally friendly processes?

The King of the Cardboard Castle to be the leader of the cardboard city, the plastic gangster with the falsehood of might or the modern force of the eco-warrior?

You decide….