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….

Take away Lobster to Liverpool

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‘All the Fun of the Fair’ is the latest installation from Liverpool based artist Alison Little. As part of the Liverpool Independent Biennial, it is being exhibited at 5 Bold Place. She presents a scene based in the American seaside resorts of Maine Country where the lobster is king and sold from the takeaway food stalls which litter the coastal towns.

Alison Little is an Artist and Writer, though her work she looks to combine her creative practice across visual arts and literature. ‘All the Fun of the Fair’ in its first concept is a short story of a young student who is raped during a summer placement in fairground town in the United States. This was written by Alison Little and has been published on her Blog in addition to several zines. This has been developed into a full chapter for the novel she is writing: Casual Nexus. In combination with the creative writing process, Alison produced a giant, man-size Lobster made from a process of creating a polythene shell and filling this with shredded paper. As an artist, she has been developing this technique for several years and often identifies similar subject matters of sexual violence and mental health. The lobster was exhibited for Sound City in the Baltic Triangle in combination with a reading of the original fictional source in May of 2018.

‘All the Fun of the fair’ the installation suspends the giant lobster form in the windows of Bold place. The inner side of the works contains statements related to the violation which can be read when looked at the mirrors located on the lower level. Sand runs across the bottom of the installation, covered by an arrangement of broken beach toys and discarded low-cost trinkets. These elements suggest American, Maine County, in particular, beach holiday debris. We present a New England seaside town where the lobster is prominent on the takeaway food stalls which line the Seafront.

In the initial short story, the rapist is transformed into a giant lobster, the girl unable to move throughout the act. To the underside of the shelled creature, we have a collection of statements relating to sexual predication. ‘Invade’, ‘Assailant’ and ‘Molestation’ are all prominent terms amongst the others present. The broken mirror is positioned to the lower side of the giant sea creature, this allows the viewer to position themselves to read the terms from different angles.

The ground space of the installation is cover with sand to suggest the golden beaches of the North American seaside towns. However, the beach area is covered in litter to suggest adverse lifestyles. The discarded freezer blocks and pick nick cups, in addition to food stall waste, set the scene for an unpleasant beach holiday. The prominently positioned coffee cup displays a label from Maine County, combined with a Portland Take away lobster box indicate the New England North Atlantic Coast. The end of games and childhood fun are presented through the broken and lost assemblage of outdoor toys. The burst and deflating paddling pool suggest an end to the innocence of infancy. An indication of celebration but also destruction are introduced by the exploded firework and the burst balloon. Could this be a fourth of July party gone wrong? Cheap State side Larger is forefront in the window display, Budweiser cans convey a seafront drinking party where the cans have been swigged down at pace. The presence of rough sleepers, or more commonly terms vagrants is given through the squashed, toxically coloured cider bottle. The American term these individuals ‘Bums’, they are present in these towns during the summer months, they travel to the resorts when the population swells to solicit the tourists. On a darker note, we are presented with narcotics, the indication of a luminously coloured crack pipe, surrounded by packets of Rizzla, cigarette papers used to inhale cannabis. Do we have a scene of destruction where intoxication of controlled substances is a factor? Ultimately, we have a final item of sexual debris, a Durex wrapper, the Transatlantic term being ‘Sheaf’. Has there been a sex act gone wrong, a liaison which has ended in devastation?

On first inspection we see a Transatlantic beach holiday representation, on deeper investigation we see a holiday gone wrong. We see destruction and devastation, we see negativity and hostility.

Dates: 3 August – 3 September, 2018
Location: 5 Bold Place, Liverpool, L1 9DN

See Map

Times: 07:30 to 23:00 daily (viewing from street)


Art In Windows is a small organisation that works with landlords and artists to commission and curate temporary and permanent art works for display in empty windows in and around Liverpool.
Art in Windows

The Liverpool Biennal Independents runs from the 18th of July until the 28th of October.
Independents Biennial

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More Rubbish Cards

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The popular cards are back with some new designs added to the classics which have been flying off the shelves in the well-established collective; Arts Hub on sunny Lark Lane, Liverpool.

For those, all important men that brought us into the World, nurtured are toddler trials and suffered our teenage tantrums we have the essential Fathers Day cards. The familiar chippy fork adorned in Union Jack motifs subsided by a joyful cake eating message take to the shelves. The Red White and Blue of the National Flag always a favourite with Fathers, and never at a better time with the football World Cup looming in the mist.

The all new Snail Birthday card makes and appearance, the colourfully created shelled creature sliding across the card. A bug form which will bring delight to young boys on their Birthdays.

A Feather adorned fork featuring a grand jewel makes a play for our attentions. The purple feathers of poultry finish off silk coated dark forks and show off a new message:

‘To Celebrate, I got you a Posh Fork, lets share a kebab’

A fine purchase to mark new celebrations, exam results, graduation, job promotion and so much more.

Finally, one which the men will like with lashings of Souse humour:

‘For you Birthday, I robbed you a Fork, from the Chinese Chippy.’

The fork displaying the prize signage of the take away restaurants which line the streets of Liverpool. A fun filled, male Humour card to be loved by all recipients.

All new cards are available from Arts Hub on Lark Lane.

Arts Hub

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