The Brit Pop Guitar is a sensation: Visual arts meets music culture with the dynamism of the Nineties which we all love to remember.
The iconic Union Jack which was imprinted on many of the bands of the era immerses within the surface of the guitar. A gritty rendition, presenting many blemishes, reflecting the disenchantment of the decade.
An unusual vision of beauty, the sexy NHS spec wearing girl, projects from the base with the same impact she made in the Pulp’ Common People music video.
Towards the lower section, we have a crowd at the festival which pre-dates Christianity: Glastonbury. Taking us back to a simpler time when entrance meant scaling the fence, away from the inflated cost of festival tickets commonplace within contemporary culture.
On the other side of the bridge, two fingers affront our focus. The insult which many, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, in particular, brandished throughout appearances. A decade which encountered economic decline, instigating uprisings of dissident activism. The generation which fought back against the raw deal they were inheriting.
Centrally we engage with the Oasis symbol, the motif printed over two levels, dominating the sound-hole. Rendering Britishness, red white and blue, backing the stretches of the guitar strings.
Negativity and dissatisfaction, prevalent of the era, is projected from the upper section:
‘Modern life is Rubbish’
A term coined by the staple of Brit Pop: Blur. The graffiti-style conveys the widespread anti-establishment dissatisfaction of the Nineties.
Butterflies flutter over the neck of the instrument. Our late Millennium radio stations were taken over by Richard Ashcroft of the Verve belting out:
‘Don’t go chasing butterflies.’
A sobering, reflective lyric in a time when heroin was being widely consumed across our nation. A drug which had not only engulfed our cities but had filtered out to our towns and villages.
The head-stock displays one of Noel Gallagher’s acclaimed anoraks. Oasis refashioned the anorak, making it desirable once again. Iconic of Britain, not only due to the protection it offers from our frequent rain showers, but equally re-visualizing the white on the red of the St Georges Cross.
The three-quarter sized Brit Pop guitar is set to make as much impact as its full-size contemporaries. A spectacular string instrument which reminds us why we still celebrate Nineties Brit Pop.
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I must be Miss Liverpool!
We are seated, lined up, eventually at the final of Miss Liverpool. The seats of the room arched around, judges desks empty for now. They have demobbed to a side room, making the final, ultimate, life-changing decision.
I must be Miss Liverpool!
It’s taken me four years to get here, I am twenty-two now, applying since eighteen, each time getting a little further, this time to the final. The extra cash borrowed for botox being the bar heightener. Four years of casual work to fund; hair, make-up, nails, extensions, tanning, designer brand gear and finally botox.
I must be Miss Liverpool!
When Daniel Lloyd won it she really became someone. She got Miss Liverpool, Miss GB and even got put in the Miss World contest. She did FHM, Playboy and even bagged the Face of Ladbrooks. She should have won Celebrity Big Brother, if it hadn’t been for that Shilpa ‘Shitty’. And then after having three kids with Jamie O’Hara, I bet the divorce settlement was massive. That’s want I want, a line of footballing boyfriends to make me the ultimate WAG.
I must be Miss Liverpool!
Then there was that Christine that got married to Paddy McGuinness, she was only eighteen and him in his forties. I wouldn’t mind being with an older fella if you got all his money and the celebrity lifestyle. She even got to go on ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire’.
I must be Miss Liverpool!
Lots of the winners get signed by Impact modelling agency. There the best glamour agency around, on your page you model in just your bra and knickers and they list your vital statistics. Image, everyone who wants looking at you, men wanting you and women wanting to be you.
The judges are coming now, I look down and chant:
I must be Miss Liverpool!
Through my teeth, I repeat the words as the third then second placed are revealed. This is my last chance, I will be too old next year at twenty-three.
I must be Miss Liverpool.
I recoil as the winner is read out. No, not her, barely eighteen, a bookworm at college, a bore. Actually looks like she let her hair dry naturally and it’s not straightened or dyed or anything. Her heals are only three inches high and that’s not even a designer dress. I cannot believe it, with the title she wants to go the Alder Hey and visit the cancer ward as she has promised her Aunty who is a nurse there, ridiculous!
No night club openings, no botox, no boob job, simply visiting boring sick kids. What could have been, I could have been a leading WAG, I could have had my own line of product, gone on ‘Celebrity Love Island’, I could have married a footballer…. I could have had another boob job….I could of had a maximum divorce settlement.
I will never be anyone!
‘I must be Miss Liverpool’ is a flash fiction works from Alison Little. It was performed at the The Athenaeum as part of the Light Night 2019 festival.
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.
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
The Sexual Revolution
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
Museum of Liverpool
A new Future
A future of tourists
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.
Exhibition continues throughout April.
Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.
The ritualistic process of crowning a Miss Liverpool is an annual event in the city of Liverpool. Initially, relating to the ancient custom of Marriage, the ball-like gown paraded by the contestants often being the traditional white. The notion of a maiden passing of age is also conjured up by the generation of the contestants, the latest winner; Elli Wilson, being a tender seventeen, most entrants are in there later teenage or early twenties in terms of age. A tall slender figure with a bikini perfect body relating to the process of fertility selection. Often a ‘Barbie-esque’ girl, a typical Arian with pure long straight blond hair. Images of Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty are conjured up by this fairy tale heroine, types of girls. Equally, does the pageant relate to the Debutante Balls so common with the Aristocracy and the Jane Austen novels we treasure as a society? Is the crowning of Miss Liverpool so different from the most recent Royal Wedding of Megan and Harry?
Should a contest be based simply on looks, it this merely an act of male objectification and is this wrong? Do modelling agencies like ‘Impact’ who often sign contestants degrading to women in the way in which they present the model’s ‘Vital Statistics,’ measures in terms of the figure and cup size of her bust?
Does the beauty pageant relate to sovereignty and are the winners so different from Kate Middleton and Megan Markle? Is the process similar to a traditional Debutante ‘Coming Out’ ball and do we need this in contemporary society?
Does the Miss Liverpool contest promote child pageanting, is this the sexualization of children and is this being encouraged?
Are we happy with Nightclub culture, the final awards ceremony for the contest being held at the Olympia in West Derby Road? Does the winner simply go onto make nightclub appearances worthy of a role model figure? There have been long term associations between the Olympia and the Grafton Rooms which has long been known for prostitution within the city. Is the contest helping to create a rape culture which we should be aiming to suppress?
Is the Pageant simple a tool for creating minor celebrities leading to appearances on hyper-reality shows. Was the former winner, Daniel Lloyds appearance on Celebrity Big Brother a positive or negative matter? Many of the winners seem to become minor celebrities, fund cosmetically enhancing boob jobs and is this a process we want to be part of?
Is the contest simply a symbol of White able bodies hierarchy? Winners are seldom from minority groups, in term of ethnicity Miss England has only ever been won by a singular Muslim girl. Are those with disabilities, same-gender sexual orientation or trans women ever present as winners or participants?
Does the concept of beauty contests, celebrity culture and the vanity which surround our advertising agencies lower self-esteem and put pressure on women to be more beautiful and ultimately younger. Is the contest ageist in term of participants and winners?
Answer the ultimate question: Do we need a Miss Liverpool?
A) Yes, she is the ultimate female idol.
B) Yes, it’s just intended as a bit of fun, she can be seen as someone to aspire to in addition to leading women from other industries.
C) I would prefer for the Miss Liverpool contest to be changed to eliminate objectification and to promote skill and intelligence of women and to include women from BME communities.
D) Miss Liverpool must go….
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‘Will you be my Bride, McBride’ is an extract from the latest chapter being written from the novel ‘Casual Nexus’ from Alison Little:
Will you be my bride, McBride
Jack was around his best friends house, Huxley McBride, they have finished school for the day. It was early September and they had just started in the upper school. Although neither of them showed any real interest in academic work or any of the subjects they had selected to take, they preferred things as the teachers were more relaxed and there were no more detentions. They were playing Atari against each other, although Jack was more skilful, Huxley always beat him as he owned the games console and had more time to practise. Jack only had a cheap version which his Dad had picked up at a car boot sale which only let you play simple games like tennis and golf. He had tried asking for one for his Birthday but Mum had said that it was ‘Too expensive’. He’d always got bigger Birthday presents before Callum and Sal had come along. When he had talked over this with Mum and claimed it was unfair she had explained that money for presents had to be split around all of the ‘Kids’ in the family so there wasn’t as much to spend on him individually. He had a solution for Christmas, he’d get Callum to agree to a joint Christmas present then he would lay off any fight games until after the New Year when he had his Atari in place. He usually got Callum to go along with what he wanted. He’d tried Sal many times to get her to go for what he wanted but she always said ‘No’ and went along with what she wanted. She was such a selfish little girl and he wished she had never come along. He swore she always got more clothes brought for her than he did, when he asked Dad about it he claimed that it was because she was a girl and couldn’t really wear the boy’s clothes that had been handed down.
Huxley always had everything, all the latest consoles, new release videos and designer brand trainers. Their house was the largest on the Private Road next to the Council Estate where Jack lived. Had Dad was a drummer in a top band which had made it big in the seventies, they were still selling out gigs now over a decade later. They could afford everything, the latest models of whatever came out, they even had a dishwasher. Jack had actually used it a few times, just for fun to see how it worked. The one thing that Huxley didn’t have which Jack had was a Mother. She had left the family never to be seen or heard from ever again before Huxley had even started school. He said that he could remember her but rarely talked about her or why she left. Jack thought that not having a Mother around would be fun. They had the run of Huxley’s house most of the time as his Dad was rarely there and he basically let Huxley and any of his friends have the freedom to do anything they wanted.
Huxley’s younger sister Caitlin came into the front room after entering through the back door, she had just started their secondary school this September. She was late back as she had stayed for she had stayed for the compulsory ‘Must go to netball practise’ session all girls attend when they start secondary school. She was full of energy and life, laughing as always. Unlike Huxley, she missed her Mother not being their greatly, but she made the best of things, ensuring she was always giggling and joining in with games.
She had her jumper tied around her waist, Jack looked towards the blossoming buds of her breasts. He noticed how they had developed further since the summer, they were becoming more than a handful. They were in fact much bigger than that of many of the girls more his own age, three years older. Although she wasn’t a particularly beautiful girl she wasn’t unattractive either. She was a little flabby around her belly, although he talked with the other lads about all the hot girls he fancied and how he often ‘Wanked off’ while listening to Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’, he actually prefers girls with more fat on them. Yes, her ripening breasts will do nicely he thinks to himself.
Caitlin asks Huxley if she can play the winner of the game, he says ‘No’ which he has a tendency to do with everything she requests. Like Jack, he has little time for his family members and would prefer it if they were not there at all. Huxley asks Jack if he is coming outside for a cigarette. Although they had virtually a full run of the house it was still better to smoke outside, his Dad didn’t like the smell of nicotine. Jack ponders over the offer but decides to decline, choosing to remain in the sitting room with Caitlin.
As Huxley lights up Jack tells Caitlin she can come and play Atari with him. She sits down beside him Jack watches her skirt rise above her knees. As the game starts Jack shows little response to the grid form defenders dropping down the TV screen. Jack begins to prod Caitlin, again, the rhetoric:
‘Will you be my Bride, McBride?’
As the Packmans on the screen munch forward, Jack clasps his thumb and forefingers into Caitlin’s bosom,
she responds and pushes him hard away. Huxley hears the commotion and looks through the patio doors to observe Jack fondling Caitlin. He laughs to himself and looks the other way as he finishes his cigarette. Inside Jack continues to pester Caitlin, he runs his hand inside her skirt. The muscles in his groin strain as his hands touch the gusset of her pants. Caitlin now battles with him and punches his hand away as she shouts;
‘Get off, get off.’
She manages to break free from Jacks grasps and runs upstairs at a full pace almost falling over the top step as ascends. Into her room, she slams the door then pushes the bedside table against the framework. She sits on her bed, heart pounding with her knees tucked up to her chin.
A-Z of Remarkable Men is the latest print from Alison Little, she talks us through the men that made the Grade to feature on the delightful artwork.
Adam, the original Man. Created by God and the start of Mankind, we owe an awful lot to him.
Banksy the graffiti artist who has taken street art to new levels.
Charles Dickens, the legendary author of the Victoria era who gave us the likes of Scrooge, Oliver and Nancy.
My Dad, the men who bring us into the World, fed us, clothes us and never stop caring how we getting along.
Albert Einstein, the German born physicist who developed the theory of relativity.
Frank Bruno, Boxer and all round champion who brought the Nation together throughout the Eighties and Nineties.
George Best, Northern Ireland and Manchester United professional footballer.
Damien Hirst, original YBA (Young British Artist) and Turner Prize winner who projected London to the Capital of the Art world.
Isaac Newton, one of the most influential scientists of all time who developed the theory of gravity.
John Lennon, Founding member of the Beatles and the legend that followed.
Keats, leading figure in the second wave of Romantic poets.
Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Artist have gave us many great works including the Mona Lisa.
Matt Damon, Hollywood actor who shot into the limelight after the success of Good Will Hunting.
Nelson, Naval Commander who insured Britain ruled the waves during the Napoleonic wars, finally being killer by a sniper at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Oasis, the Gallagher lead band that was the Nineties, reminding us ‘Don’t look back in anger.’
Paul McCartney, founding member of the Beatles and the legend which still is Sir Paul.
Quentin Blake, Illustrator who brought Roald Dahl’s books to life with his colourful characters.
Wayne Rooney, Everton, Manchester United and England International professional footballer.
Scott of the Antarctic, Royal Navy Officer who lead the fateful expedition to the South Pole.
Tom Daley, double World Champion diver.
Usher, American Singer, Songwriter and Dancer.
Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who brought the South of France to life with renditions such as Starry Night.
Winston Churchill, the Wartime leader who lead us to victory in the Second World War.
OXlade Chamberlain, Arsenal, Liverpool and England International Professional footballer.
Yves Klein, French artist considered to be one of the most important figures in Post War European Art, most notable for his monotone works.
The mask of Zorro, Johnston McCulley’ character who escapes from prison to find his long lost daughter and avenge to death of his wife.
The prints are A4 in size, available framed or unframed from Arts Hub in Lark Lane, Liverpool.
A-Z of Amazing Women is the new range of prints from Alison Little. The main print takes us through a range of iconic women alphabetically, these are combined with a range of prints of individual women with short statements. She Talks us through why she selected the women for the new range:
Anne Frank The young girl whose diary gave us a real insight into the Holocaust.
Mary Berry A national treasure, the cooking show host who frequents our TV screens.
Cruella Devil The 101 Dalmatians leading lady that really kicked ass.
Diana, Princess She stole the heart of the nation, her legacy will live on for eternity.
Emmeline Pankhurst Led the Suffrage Movement into women gaining the vote.
Florence Nightingale The nurse who became a Victorian icon and through making her rounds became known as ‘The lady with the Lamp’
Ariana Grande The singing superstar who helped survivors after a suicide bomber detonated an explosion at the Manchester Arena during her performance.
Barbara Hepworth The sculptor who led the way for women to work with heavy materials such as bronze.
Laura Ingalls The pigtail parading young lady who inspired young girls during her appearances in ‘Little House on the Prairie’
Joan of Arc The 15th Century female warrior who led the French to victory, when finally capture she was executed.
Kelly Holmes Double Olympic Gold winning runner who was awarded a Dame hood.
Sarah Lucas Leading feminist artist who represented Britain in the Venice Biennial in 2015.
My Mum The ladies which raise, support and cherish us throughout our lives.
The Nolan’s The seventies all Irish sisters who sung there way into the limelight in the seventies.
Oprah Winfrey The all loving talk show host who became America’s first multi-billionaire Black person.
Pocahontas The native American who stared in the folk tale by saving the life of an English man held captive when her own father tried to execute him.
The Queen Simply, the Monarch.
Eleanor Rathbone The Liverpool member of the Suffrage movement who helped get women the vote.
Sylvia Plath The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet acclaimed for her collections.
Tracey Emin Turner prize-winning artist famed for ‘My Bed’, the installation which caused controversy.
Eunice Huthart The contestant that beat the Gladiators then went to Hollywood to become a stunt double.
Vera Lynn ‘The Forces Sweetheart’ who entertained the troops during World War Two.
Amy Winehouse Legendary for hit such as ‘Back to Black’ and ‘Rehab’ her music will live on forever.
Beatrix Potter The writer and illustrator who brought us books such as Peter Rabbit.
Malala Yousafzai The once school girl who survived being shot by the Taliban for going to school.
Renee Zellweger The Texas-born artist who became Bridget Jones.
All prints are A4 in size and available from Arts Hub.
Ariana Grande Bee is the design submitted for Bee in the city, the mass public art trail to take place in the summer of 2018 in Manchester. This design is one of two submitted by Artist Alison Little.
Ariana Grande Bea is a tribute to the star Ariana Grande who took to the people Manchester and the nations hearts after the devastating terror attack in May of last year. The representation plays tribute to the costumes she wears to performs many of her gigs, with the full swag of a singing and dancing sensation. In the base of the form, we make reference to ‘One Love Manchester’ the slogan presented on the famous white hoodie she wore for the charity concert held only two weeks after the carnage of the explosion.
Donation Station is a sculptural installation proposal submitted to Dorset County Hospital. The intention of the Illustrate is to encourage organ donation and the chosen piece to be sited by the cardiology department in Dorchester.
Donation Station aims to locate a collection of concrete portable organ transplant refrigeration units within the cardiac courtyard. Each unit to feature a name panel being that of a celebrity or person who became famous medically because of an organ transplant procedure. Temporary over-size latex organs to be used for the private view for the installation opening and on occasions when the Hospital and the Cardiac Unit has a higher level of foot fall. The installation will encourage donation directly through the use of celebrity culture, indirectly by simply drawing attention to the need for organs to be donated.
The artist will work with a locally based firm within the Dorset region to create between nine and twenty-one internally re-enforced rough solid cement cast from the use of a portable refrigeration unit suitable for organ transportation. Each unit to measure around 50 x 30 and 50 cm in height, the exact size to be determined at a later date. A red dye to be used within the concrete mixing process to give them a sight pink tonal quality. The rough cement cast will give the units an artistic quality in terms of a raw edge suiting the subject of organ donation and the surgical operating process. The grid-like layout of the units looks to draw attention to the vast amounts of organs donations needed by the NHS on a daily basis. The grid structure to be laid out in three columns, the columns to depict the three people who die in need of an organ donation on a daily basis. The mathematical formation draws attention to the position of the process of donated organs are transported allowing for no error and perfection in timing matters.
Each Unit to show an external shape of the organ which it contains within its structure. The name of a celebrity or medically notable person to be etched onto a brass plaque attached to the front of the structure. The World Cup-winning footballer, George Best to be used against an organ of a liver representing the liver transplant operation which he undertook. In a similar manner, Lou Reed the American rock music legend could be represented. Medical milestones could be shown with a unit dedicated to Louis Wash Kansy the first man to receive a heart transplant. A second plaque to the back of the units would explain further details in regards to who is featured and the nature of the operation. There is also the potential for a unit to contain a brain the be transplanted, for the unit the be unnamed then the ethical considerations raised in more details on the rear plaque. Does the outcome result in the brain or body becoming the person in existence?
The over-size latex organs to be used for the private view for the installation and for occasions when the foot fall to the cardiac unit is higher. Each form to be made from individually moulded organs incorporation colour dyes which relate to the blood present during the operation procedures. Potentially each piece could be filled with water on a base level so as they were unlikely to be affected by environmental conditions such as wind. As they would be hollow internally they would be relatively easy to store in an internal facility. The option of the latex organs to be taken to various events to increase levels of those giving permission for the process has further potential.
Engagement with the installation and the potential to increase the numbers of organ donation works on varies levels. The latex forms have a strong visual impact which would draw attention to the art forms created which would be reflected through the media reaching the public on a greater scale. The dramatic effect of the rubber organs would draw further attention to the art form when used at busy footfall periods. The concrete units to create interest from the platform of the many windows present around the courtyard. The installation can then be engaged with on a secondary level, the plates can be read and the procedures identified with on a higher level. In today celebrity-obsessed culture should lead to greater participation in the organ donation process. The potential to invite debate over the identity of an individual if this procedure was to occur is immense.
The Donation Station is an innovative installation which will engage on an emotional, cultural and ethical level. We identify with lives which could be saved through the process, our passions for the celebrity-obsessed culture of the twenty-first century Britain, but equally to engage the debate over the ethics of the ultimate organ transplant: the brain.