Shrines through the Lens

Bluebell resize small (1)

Graham Smillie: photographer, has worked on numerous creative endeavours throughout Liverpool and a leading figure within the creative community. We address how his photographic practice took him from capturing the cities musicians to the road side shrines which divide our communities.

Graham established his photographic practice in embracing his passion for the music industry through capturing bands, his lens a staple at the famed Threshold Festival. Navigating towards the end of the last decade, BC (Before Covid), his creativity has led him towards social documentation and social engagement practices. Representing musicians became time capsule shots of deceased animals as a result of traffic accidents. Revolutionary new work evolved into what is currently the visual documentation of roadside shrines. Graham contemplates the process of forming memorials and their social impact through the digital lens.

The social impact of shrine creation through their visual capitulation. Their impact on where they are cited within the community in parallel to their digital presence in the rapidly expanding realms of the virtual world. The social and political context of photography and activism through creative practice.

His work also explores of the memorials he has photographed: attachments to trees, professional and traditional florist arrangements. Waterproofing methodologies, the use of imitation flowers and real foliage which often wilts rapidly. How self-built monuments develop and grow, seasonal and Birthday expansions. Variations between more rural roads and the city environment: high rise residential buildings and pedestrian barrier systems.

A photographer who delves into the impact of makeshift memorials. How they can divide communities, objected to by local residents and frequently removed. The health impact of marking the scene of a fatality, overcoming loss and disbelief.

Images:

Main: Bluebells

Above Left: Ben

Above Right: Tree

All rights reserved Graham Smillie

 

Grahamsmilliephotography

Graham Smillie

The Man Who

Dave laughing

Dave, my partner died from covid-19 during the pandemics deadliest week in Britain. This poem was written for him and read at his funeral. Due to the circumstances only 10 could attend the service and we were seated 2 metres apart. Now, as we progress towards some kind of pre-coronavirus normality, only without Dave and so many others, it feels right to reflect on those lost to the pandemic.

 

The Man Who

Dave; lost 3 weeks ago
Covid-19 took from our throw
Laughing, joking till the end
Paramedics struggled, too late to mend

Never shy
Tears, to cry
To show emotion
Animated in notion

A time of lock-down
Leaving house necessity bound
Bars void of serving beer
Brass’ brandishing running gear

Shutters shut on Breck Road
Supermarket queues overload
City traffic ghost-ridden
Parks crammed, exercise-driven

Countries closed down globally
Coronavirus expands robotically
Fatality toll gets bigger
Home death’ omitted figures

An engineer well-travelled
Shores and jobs marvelled
World wide memories collected
To all, much respected

Nigeria
Nicaragua
New York
New Orleans
New Mexico

Dry docks of Cammell Laird
Oceans of the Med
Sights few make comparison
Might of Hurricane Alison

Should Athletico have come
3000 fans, epicentre were from
Post pandemic, answer we will get
Till then we can only threat

He could do the Twist
Dancing moves blitz
Sofa based arm bopping
Laughter, joke swapping

Boris got Better
Death count fewer
Fate, the decider
Dave smiles wider

Up there in heaven
Still a lover of women
A flirt and a tease
Eager to please

To remember:
the jokes
the laughs
the banter
the frolics
a man never afraid to say that’s bollocks

The Man Who was Davy Jones

Alison Little

A Future

A future college copy

A Future

Head of Augustus
Looms down
Baby faced leader
Acquisition of colonialism

Castles stand proud
Once battlements
Survived invasions
Safeguard our shores

Across the beaches
Horseback troops thrust
galloping to battlement
Faster and Faster

Classic novels align
Our past, our heritage
The Empire, British supremacy
Victories acclaimed, territory conquered

Trains travel coastal bound
Frontiers of our Nation
Dishevelled
In need of renewal
Clatter and shake
Dust encased carriages
Lumped upholstery
Scrunched newspaper
Once great railways
Screech, screech

To the sea-side resorts
Past popularity
Former Glory
The Great British Holiday
Buckets and Spades
Ice Cream
Candy Floss
Deck Chairs
Donkey Rides
Punch and Judy
Now piers neglected
Slats rotting sea’s
Package holidays: deserted
Cheap flight redundancies
New desires: Mediterranean

Bataclan made famous
Once Norman conquerors
Suffering the same fate
Home-grown terrorism

Late capitalism looms
Community companies thrive
Social banking
Greener investments

Solar power
Sustainable energy
Centre stage
On our minds
On our consciousnesses
On our futures

Ice caps melt
No longer ignored
Pigtail bound school girl
Stands up
Takes on World presidents
‘How Dare’
Resonates
Leaders, baby faced
Earth must not resign
We, the Whole World
Act now
Turn down the temp
Reduce
Re-consume
Re-use
Re-vive
Re-demand a future.

Alison Little

 

A future, free flow text inspired by visual material collated as college featured above.

Barbie Must Die!

barbie

 

The top 10 reasons why Barbie must die and be with us no longer.

10 Goes out with Ken.

9 Drives very slow cars.

8 A bit too fond of Pink!

7 Delicate and brakes easily.

6 Does nothing other than leisure activities.

5 Injection moulded, resulting in her looking like every other injection moulded Barbie.

4 Her only function is to play dress up.

3 Is a stereotypical babe, cliché of straight, blond 3/4 length hair, fair-skinned and       representational of Aryan culture.

2 Literally an airhead, she has nothing between her ears.

1 Not a real woman!

Sinister Smiles

larma 004

Sinister Smiles

Folded over
Strapped down
Sectioned off
Cajoled, centrally

Dropped down from a disheveled Heaven
Tossed out of Godliness
Rejected from comfort provision for the afterlife
No longer good enough, surplus to requirements

Perhaps pushed out of a boot
Uphill reversing, then shoveled out the back way
Redundant of domestic interior requirements
Rendering green space urban wasteland

Alternatively, a body encasement
A wrap-around, makeshift coffin
A heroin-induced fatality
Disposed of under the extremities of degradation

But from the sinister tatters
We see a smiling face
From the angled geometrics
A striking grin works through
Turning the corners of our mouths
We smile back at the sinister grins face!

 

 

Sinister Smiles is a flash fiction works in response to the mattress shown in the image above. The image was originally posted on social media and the comment made helped to generate the literal works. Originally located in Everton Park, Liverpool, the mattress is no longer present and appears to have been disposed of by the authorities.

Game Over

Ver 0.28N

I stand Tall
The remains of Mee demolition
The crew:
Mee, the head man, Mo, Dow and Re-bow
Got started last week
The rest of the building knocked down:
Demolished
Kaput
No more

Outsides removed
Core kept in place
Outers ripped
Splattered to the ground

I stand as I have stood for fifty years
A geometric spiral
Staircase
Jagging my way upward
a point scoring-level
Increasing, jumping up

The internals of my handrail run free
Lashed, juxtaposed at angels
Level markers
Reds of point increase indicators
Borders to penetrate
Upper levels to target cross

Heading me off: the control box
The upper cube
Rooftop location
An outer look out
Generator casing
Roof maintenance portal facilitator

But the roof is now gone
The cube stands singular
The rain drip tray removed
The target level of console characters
Rubble to the ground

For the weekend I remain
The tower which survived
Friday knock off time
Mee said get off-ski
Mo, Dow and Re-bow
Made route: nearest watering hole
For two more days of the half century
I will stand tall
Monday morning, I shall fall
Crushed to rubble mush
The ultimate Game Over
No more
No longer
Nothing…

 

Game Over is an illustration and free flow text work created by Alison Little.

Best Dressed Easter Bunny

Ver 0.28N

Easter, Bunnies and Dressing Up.

Let’s get things straight!

How did the Easter Bunny come about?

The Easter Bunny actually came from Folklore, the Pagan Festival of Vernal Equinox fell around springtime. This was replicated with the Jewish Passover then again through Christianity as the Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead after the Crucifixion.

Why Eggs, Bunnies don’t lay eggs?

The traditional symbol of the Easter Bunny is carrying a basket of eggs both relate to each other. The bunny is, in fact, a rabbit or hair and a symbol of fertility, they reproduce actively and give birth to a large little around spring. Eggs are ancient representations of fertility in terms of the cell which need to be fertilised in all forms of life, also relating strongly to birds which lay eggs often hatching in spring. Thus, giving us the pairing of Bunnies and eggs.

Is the Bunny Female?

She is normally given feminine qualities which relate to the traditions of home-making, through the hiding of eggs, nest making and the ability to remember public holidays.

What’s the ‘Best Dressed’ tradition about?

The tradition relates to getting dressed up for the Easter service, wearing a new dress and bonnet for the occasion.

Best Dressed Easter Bunny cards are available from Rubbish cards and on sale from Arts Hub on Lark Lane, Liverpool.

More about Arts Hub

A Letter to your Former Self

Ver 0.28N

‘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

 

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

Sylvia Pankhurst

 

Mural pres

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