All the Fun of the Fair

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Last week saw the ‘All the Fun of the Fair’ installation take over at Bold Place. This weeks blog shares the original fiction works which was the intial sourse point for the installation.

All the Fun of the Fair

She felt low down, sank down, fallen through into a space only six foot by two foot. Crammed into a recession, three similar sized walls behind her to head height, two long stretched walls either side of her tapering off towards her feet with a small final surface encasing her body. Her weighty box-like cell, mahogany Formica panelling, lined with a thin cushioned faux silk, imitation gold handles surround the outer casing of the coffin.

As she begins to regain consciousness she raises, lying flat, floating upwards in a gravity-defying motion, out of her prison. The coffin was not real, the mahogany panelling on the walls of a cheap motel room. The handles belong to the dresser, the faux silk is the bed sheets, but they are not sleek and satiny, they are rough and bobbled and begrimed with the spills of what had occurred. Unable to move fully she can feel the presence of a body beside her, a giant of a man, not fat but colossal in size. Although he seems to be moving slightly as he breathes he appears to be unaware of her presence on the tiny mattress space she is embedded upon.

What had happened? She thinks, her brain encircled by storm clouds from being unconscious, she begins to place last night’s activities, her short term memory had been shredded into a thousand pieces, the sections still there, but only making sense when entwined together. How had she got to the tiny mattress space she occupies? She had been out drinking with one of the girls she had been working with for her summer job. They had been around a few bars and were really quite inebriated. Approached by a man, her friend first, then she remembers kissing him on his direction. Next, he grabbed her arm, almost dragging her, plucked from the bar, a predator choosing his prey; not being hauled through the doors, but not fully consenting.

To the unbeknown, nearby motel room, he took her, unsure of what to do she kept walking with him, still quite tipsy from the evening; should she try and push him off her? From entering the motel room he lashed her down on the bed, in a frenzy, he was on top of her, she was morphed like a giant lobster engulfing her, its claws gripping her down as she was smothered by the body. The antenna’ worming over her face and the walking legs combatting the struggle of the body. She couldn’t move and she couldn’t breathe, his chest pushing in around her throat and nostrils. She struggled with an inward thrusting motion like the crusher claw had reached down from its front line position, forcing its path with no care for the flesh it rips open. Her groyne muscles were trying to fight it, clenching together at their full will, trying to push out in conflict. No oxygen, no more strength, then black.

As she begins to come round she cannot move, in placing together what had happened she couldn’t fully understand, not then, not for many months, then many years later she would be able to accept what had taken place. She found some safety in the fact he seemed to be asleep and unaware of her presence. She still could not move as she lay there for what felt like an eternity: static and unreactive.

ceiling tiles

wall panels

carpet

eyes moving

body still

motionless

over and over, rhetoric

unresponsive body

thoughts, idea’s, existence

Then salvation comes: a feeling like water rushing through her body starting at her head then zigzagging across her form, over her spine and down to her feet, she could move again. Purity flowing through her being, release from deadlock, allowing her muscles and head to function in sequence. From this she managed to get up, moving as quietly as a semi-functional person could. Unsure of her clothes and her bag, she seemed to have most of them on, she began to look for the door but she couldn’t find it. Fumbling over the mahogany panels as they engrossed the space, she tried them all looking for an escape hatch, her vision blurred, only capable of seeing a few feet in front of her. One must open, but which one, then he spoke:

‘Doors over there’

He had been awake the whole time not asleep as she had imagined. Dismissive in the way he casually said the words, like nothing, had happened, dis-guarding the girl after she had been stripped bare to her skeletal form. Oblivious to what he had put her through, no remorse, no sorrow, no regret, nothing…

Alison Little

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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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Sound City: Performs

Claws

Alison Little, the artist and writer behind many North West based Arts and the creator of this very blog to perform a reading at this weekend’s Sound City.

Sound City is the award-winning Metropolitan Festival set to take over Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle this weekend. The unequalled Festival presents an array of new music and the Arts, re-enforces Liverpool’s cultural heritage. The very best of new acts are to include ‘Slow Readers Club’ and ‘Low Island’ in addition to a variety of acts from all over Europe. Now, over a decade old the Festival is in its eleventh year and looks to be most anticipated to date.

The Unusual Arts Sourcing Company is set to take over the former Cains Brewery site. Named one of the Best things about Sound City 2017 they are back for the second year. We are to join in with life drawing, listen to poetry and watch the operatic performance over the two-day event. Tapas and an array of drinks available from the cafés and bars present in the newly transformed arts venue.

‘All the Fun of the Fair’ is an extract from the Novel ‘Casual Nexus’ which Alison is looking to publish in the autumn of this year. The novel follows a young girls journey from childhood into early adulthood encompassing all turns, many of which are ultimately tragic. The reading is to take place at 5:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, the art form, a giant representation of a lobster to be present throughout both days.

The best on offer for this Bank Holiday weekend.

Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th of May, Cains Brewery, Liverpool.

Free Entry to Cains Brewery Village

Sound City

The Unusual Art Sourcing Company

Cains Brewery Village

 

Eyes Glazed Over

Eyes Glazed Over copy

Eyes Glazed Over is a fictional works, the events and characters are not based on real life.

Eyes Glazed Over

Beginning with an argument, just a brother, sister teenage disagreement. My brother Callum wanted to know where I had written down a phone number for a new customer for his window cleaning round, I told him I had put a square around it in the notepad. I not being able to find the phone number he became enraged, I shouted back as it wasn’t my fault, I had written down the details. The next thing I knew I was behind the kitchen door, with him on the other side. He slammed the door towards me and my hands went through the glass, as if suspended in time I looked at them on the other side of the window. The glass shattered into a thousand pieces, splintering across the kitchen and into the garden. More than an accident but it hadn’t been intentional either, but it was what was to happen next which was the most concerning. As I lye on the ground, I look towards my hands and wrists, lacerations torn across lower my arms, molecules of blood appearing like droplets dispensed from a pipette, multiplying a thousand times to fill the troths of the tears then pouring out over my arms and onto the glass fragments that covered the floor. I looked towards Callum and he towards me, picked up his ladder and his bucket and went on his way. A glazed of stare of nothingness, no emotion, no feeling, no reaction. That was the day I first knew Callum was really sick.

So what had Callum been like as a teenager? Switch back in time to one year earlier. He was the kind of big brother it was fun to have, someone to admire, friends we could share, bands we both liked, clubs we went to together and TV programs were we laughed simultaneously. He was one of the boys off the estate getting into the occasional fight, usually well deserved. A line of lovely girlfriends, Adela then Jenny, gorgeous girls and a pleasure to be around, delightful in more ways than I could name.

The best memory I have was when we had all gone to the fair at Wooburn Green, myself, Callum, Jenny, her sister Karen and quite a few others. There hadn’t been a fair on the Green for several years, in the late eighties it had been the scene of the fatal accident where a carriage on the Egg ride had become loose and broke away killing the occupants. At the fair, we asked the Egg Ride Operator what had happened? If he had left a gate open or not checked the mechanics before the ride was started. He explained that he had taken over the ride after the accident and that the man who had the ride originally had gone into hiding. The chain on the carriage had been shut, but even if it hadn’t been it wouldn’t have made much difference, the motion pressure of the ride would have kept the passengers in place. He showed us the mechanisms and he the only thing to check was if a coat or bag or perhaps a shoe had fallen into cogs and none had done. The fault had been put down to the fabrication and the Police were not prosecuting them for the fatalities they were actually looking to bring Man Slaughter charges against the Manufacturers.

His problem was that he couldn’t get anyone to go on the ride today, the Egg carriages just kept going round and round, the crowds from the Village Green Beer Gardens watching the empty motion with morbid fascination. In recognising that he was telling the truth we all went away to talk about what to do next. Callum then tried to rally all the lads around him saying they should all go on the ride and that nothing would happen. Some of them were in two minds, Chalky, one of his closest mates, his once joker friend was the most reluctant saying that they would be ‘Crazy’ to go on the ride. I went to Craig and I told him to leave it and I would sort things out. From there I went over to Karen, Jenny’ older sister to see if she would go on it with myself, but could she not spin the carriage upside down.

Karen came on the ride with myself and I enjoyed the experience without spinning upside down, rather a nice view of the Green, the Village and across onto the fields. After that Callum had no bother getting the others to come on with him, every single one of them going without question. Heads held slightly down, but with determination, even Chalky had lost his reluctance. Then all the adults that were drinking in the nearby beer gardens started to come over and asking questions about what had happened. He covered what had happened with the carriage and the Fair Ground Owners were, in fact, taking the manufactures to court themselves to try and reclaim the cost of the ride but it was likely to take years. They hadn’t wanted to because of the casualties but the ride had cost in excess of ten grand so it was too much money simply to write off. So the curse of the Egg ride was broken and much fun was had at the fair again.

So what had happened to Callum one year on, where had the fun-loving courageous, but fundamentally good brother gone? Jenny, his girlfriend had gone although she still cared about what happened to him she couldn’t be with him any longer. There had been narcotics usage but nothing too serious, just a few party drugs: weed and amphetamines. But Craig had changed mentally, on that day as I lye on the floor, the droplets of blood multiplying watching him walk away eyes glazed over, there was something severely wrong.

From the kitchen floor, I managed to get up and staggered through the house and out of the front door. From here one of my neighbours found me and got me in his car to take me to the hospital. I was sent through to see another nurse not so involved in the caring side of her profession. As she bandaged my hands she began to ask questions about why I had not gone to the nearer Accident and Emergency department at another hospital. She then began a long lecture on how it wasn’t fair for the staff and resources at Wycombe General Hospital to be stretched to the degree they were being.

On coming out of the cubical my Mum was there, on seeing the blood both my parents had rushed to the Hospital, on recognising that I was basically okay my Dad had gone straight to the Police Station. Mum then waited with me as I had to be X Rayed for glass and my cuts glued and stitched back together. When we were ready to leave she went to book a Taxi, a Police Officer came to interview me about what had happened. I started to explain what had happened where he had pushed to the door and the glass had smashed through my hands. The Officer then started to scream at me telling me I had said that he had pushed me through the window and I was now saying he pushed the door against me. Trying to clarify what had been said was no good, I then tried to cover what had happened with Callum when he had walked off with his eyes glazed over. He wouldn’t listen to a word then explained that he wasn’t ‘Nicking’ him for anything. In response to that, I informed him that I didn’t want him to ‘Nick’ him as he was ‘My brother’.

So what became of Callum? Well, everything had to get worse before it was to get better. He had developed an illness we commonly know as schizophrenia. This involved visions of things which were not real, disillusionment and paranoia. A short spell in a young offenders institution turns of rough sleeping this was eventually followed by a period in a mental health unit when he was able to start recovery and the correct medication. The nightmare of earlier years was over and the life of adapting to living with a mental illness was to begin. Callum has a nice life now, never married but he has a home and he works hard, visiting Art Galleries and shopping in Sainsbury’s on his weekends off work. Truth be told though, although he is a nice man with many good attributes, he is not the same man he would have grown into as a boy. Something in him was lost to Schizophrenia, a part of his mind was destroyed by the illness, a part which can never return.

Alison Little