Shrines through the Lens

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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

Recycled Tampons + er, do I have to?

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So you’ve moved with the green revolution: recycling, re-using carrier bags and you endeavour to sort waste for compost. Due to lock-down you’ve reduced use of the vehicle and invested more time to walking and cycling. The next step: they want us girls to use re-cycled tampons, your first thought?

Someone else’s discharge! ew…ew…ew.

Your initial intention: to reduce your carbon footprint by all other means keep sanitary produce; new, pure and cleanly raped.

It’s time to re-think the matter of eco sanitary products, they are not what you imagine!

1.5 billion sanitary products are flushed down the lav every year in Britain. An average woman will use 11,000 sanitary items over her lifetime. It’s time to consider greener alternatives.

Okay, I understand recycled tampons are actually made from used tampons, but aren’t they less pure?

Wrong – many are actually made from organic cotton and often, unlike regular varieties, free from chlorine bleach. They frequently exclude rayon and chemically produced fragrance. If polymers are used, medical-grade is usually stated. Further claim to be hypo-allergenic, highlighting their superiority to standard produce.

Are there genuine environmental benefits?

So, so, many: regular tampons are around 90% plastic and ultimately not biodegradable, taking up space in landfill and the oceans of the planet. Green alternatives use cardboard applicators, paper wrappers and compostable film. Some utilise re-usable applicators which are purchased separately.

Any other plus factors?

There are animal cruelty-free and vegan alternatives, some donate to charities that act against period poverty and FGM.

Then there’s straightforward vanity: the packaging looks amazing. A luxury supplied in a 5-star hotel or first class lounge at the airport.

So are you with me?

Yeah, I’m with you, recycled tampons are for me and forever!

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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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A Void

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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

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.

Sinister Smiles

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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

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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.

Freshly Cut

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Free Fall text from Alison Little as a response to the tree wasted area located adjacent to the entrance to Wavertree Park in Liverpool.

 

Freshly Cut

Crisp Pinetree’
Cut freshly, discarded
Entry to the park space flanked
by the aftermath of festivity
Some burnt out
Shelled, garotted by flame
Others ripe
Everlife of the Evergreen

Not destruction
Void of waste

Revive, renewal, rejuvenation
Optimism
New Year: a fresh start

The festive season,
a portal, new beginnings
Pressures, Pitfalls left behind
Opportunities on the horizon
Mentally, leased a new life
Exhaustion, weariness
Past driven
Recovered

Fresh
Health gifted
Bright
Engulfed by optimism

Walking into the positivity of the future

Alison Little

 

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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BBQ Weather?

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BBQ Weather?

It most certainly is…….to make the occasion I thought I would share an extract from the novel being written: Casual Nexus. The events, characters and occurences are strictly fictitious.

 


Today had headed towards the same remote area of the National Park, finding a desolate parking area his odds had looked good, however it was still before midday and there may be more day trippers later in the afternoon. His first move was to go for a walk around, realistically he couldn’t carry the corpse for three or four hundred meters. He finds a spot surrounded by tree’s and shrubs, this is his spot he declares low in volume but out loud. He collects the shovel, grid and coals from the back seat of the car. He begins to dig a large pit, going down almost four feet, scattering much of the soil amongst the scrubs so as it appeared less had been dug. Starting a fire in the grid he puts the grid in place.

While collecting the burgers and the chicken he opts to grab the suitcase as well. On returning to the fire pit he places the meats on the grid, the perfect cover. The flames have died down and the coals are white, but the pit is too deep for the meats to cook. It doesn’t matter he thinks to himself, he can eat when he gets home, just as he was debating opening the suitcase a dog suddenly joins him. The spaniel begins to sniff around the meat, he shouts get away and goes to kick him hard. The owner appears, shouting the dog, as comes over to put him on his leash he looks into the pit:

‘Looks like you dug that a little too deep.’ he addresses the man.

‘I prefer it that way, the meat gets cooked over a longer period, I call it slow cooking out in the wilderness.’ he responds ‘What business is it of yours anyway?’

‘I was just expressing an opinion!’ retorts the dog walker, as he strides off he murmurs ‘That will never cook to himself.’

When the canine and owner are out of sight he decided to wait a while before the next step of his carnage plans in case they return. He had lost reception on his cell but the timer display way still accurate. After around ten minutes he had a quick scout around, as there was no-one to be seen he moves the grid and empties the contents of the of the suitcase into the pit. After adding some lighter fuel the flames rise high engulfing the bedding from the motel and the clothes he had been wearing the previous evening. Although it is summer it is an unusually cold day, he warms himself from the heat of the fire. As the fabric are reduced the cinders he replaces the grid and the illusion of the barb-e-queue re-enacted.

Becoming a waiting game he begins to work through time sequences in his mind as he waits for dusk. Twenty-four hours since he arrived at the motel, twenty-four hours since he entered the restaurant, twenty-four hours since he first met Bara. As the night falls he heads towards the parking lot,

‘Such a silly girl’ he thinks to himself, ‘If she had of been quiet I wouldn’t have needed to kill her.’

His car is the only one remaining and there is no sign of anyone in the vicinity. He carries the body in the duvet, again trying to make it look like a sports bag just in case someone is lurking about.

He had kept the fire going, into the pit goes what is left of the Czech girl, head first then legs bent around. Again lighter fuel intensifies the flames, corpse becomes engulfed in flames. First, the burning of the skin didn’t seem that different to the earlier smalls from the charcoal, the muscle scented like beef in a frying pan, the fat similar to pork on a grill. The iron-rich blood still present giving off a coppery aroma combined with a type of musky sweet perfume created by the bodily fluids. As he resists the urge to vomit he looks towards the bite marks on his wrists, ‘Such a silly girl,’ he retorts to himself.

After around thirty minutes and a good prod around with a stick, the remains look to have been reduced to ash as much as possible. He then begins to fill the pit with soil he had removed earlier. Now, only two feet deep he starts a new fire in the pit, as the flames flash up he picks up the grid, discarding the meat into the bushes and puts it back into place. As the flames diminish he decided to make a move, it will simply look like a BBQ pit tomorrow if anyone walks through the natural enclosure. The last twenty-four hour ago, marker clicks into his mind as he drives in the direction of home, twenty-four hours since she made me throttle her, such a silly girl.