Park Benched

 

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Park Benched is a fictional works by Alison Little.

Explicit content warning.

I stand solid and well positioned overlooking the lake in Stanley Park. A traditional park bench is my primary role. High-quality seating provision for the park dwellers of the North Liverpool district of the famed Anfield. To my front, I have the Kop and the Liverpool Football Club stadium, to my rear I have the home of Everton Football Club: Goodison Park. I am the great divider, a barrier and a leading resting point solution and clearly not a rotting park bench in need of a lick of paint.

Approached by a young man, he sits down looking a little too eager. He has been here several times over the summer months. Not from Liverpool, he wears baggy jeans combined with a smarter cotton shirt, his neck is engulfed by a mass of multicolour plastic jewellery. Hair dyed a bright range of colours from pink to blue, and a hoody is tied around his waist. His look is finished off by a token tribute to his sexuality, a rainbow lapel badge pinned to the pocket of his shirt.

He must be a student off Uni for the summer months I think to myself. Viewing the soft features of his cheekbones I ponder over the look of anticipation on his face. Here come another man, much older, he has been visiting my bench for countless years, a regular of many moons. Dressed in a variety of faded shades of black he brandishes a wiry greying beard, although summer he wears a dark jacket, dusty and unkempt in appearance. His eye twitches as it always does from under the well-worn wool hat which tops of his thinning figure.

They begin to talk quietly to one another, after around five minutes they leave my seating solution and skulk off towards the bushes towards the left-hand gate, a quieter space within the park.

After around a quarter of an hour, they return and take a seat together. As of earlier, they talk quietly for a while. I look at the student, the innocence and naivety glowing from his flushed face. Here it comes, I’ve seen this many times before, the finishing gesture. The older man squeezes his knee, clenching his hands gently a few times, then subtly he slots a rolled ten-pound note into the shirt pocket beside the rainbow lapel badge. Rubbing his shoulder goodbye he makes his way off, his dark trousers trailing the ground slightly as he sludges away.

The vulnerability of the student, the lack of understanding apparent on his face. Not fully comprehending what had just happened, unsure of why he had been given money. As he decides to leave I hope never to see him again, taking a seat, recognising there are better ways of living.

Alison Little

 

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Love of the Second Hand

Arabian Night

The book was beautifully bound, in impeccable condition and filled with the love of being read and enjoyed. Modern publishing of the classic ‘Arabian Nights’ I had the audio version, or what you used to call tapes when I had been a child. My brother and I had been passed them on from our cousin and we had played them repeatedly from our flat one speaker cassette player common of the period.

My favourite story had been ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ because my name was Ali and I thought the story was fantastic. Now there are numerous companies who produce personalised storybook for children, but in the eighties, it was something special. Arabian Nights have been reproduced by many different publishers but this copy was really something special.

My fingertips run over the arches of the front cover I can hear the low volume singing of a tune I had never heard before. I was in one of the larger charity shops at the top of Liverpool famed Smithdown Road. All the books are displayed in the window and I can’t seem to walk on by and not have a look inside. I turn to see where the singing was coming from, before me I can see a man, the vision of cool but in personality much more than appearance. However, not bad looking in saying that, ginger hair and a very contemporary matching ‘Tash’. He was shorter than me but very broad in contrast.

As I had turned around he had stopped singing:

‘No don’t stop!’

I insist,

‘Sorry, I didn’t realise I was singing out loud, I was working through the lyrics for the band’s new track.’

‘So you sing in a band then?’

I try not to sound so very impressed.

‘Yes, lead vocals, among other things, engineering work and single parent of two teenagers.’

Pausing for a second, I look at the copy of Steven Gerrard’s biography in his hand:

‘Is that for you?’

‘No its for my son, I am picking up some books for them for now, then I will start getting in some real Christmas presents later in the week.’

He continues to explain that he is trying to encourage his son to read, but always ensures he gets his daughter a book as well as she actually reads more of his books than he does in addition to her own.

I look around to suggest something good for a teenage girl, I spot a hardback called ‘Feminist don’t wear pink’,

‘This is good for teenage girls, it’s actually new out and fresh in Waterstone at to moment, I am surprised it’s second hand already.’

He picks up the book with an accomplished look on his face. As he flicks through he stops and reads aloud;

‘The first time I looked at my Vulva in the mirror………………………………………..I am not sure I am ready for this as a parent yet.’

I take the book off him and take a look inside, after reading a few headings;

‘Yes, it’s a bit too much isn’t it, is this what teenage girls are reading now?’

‘I think I’ll go for this one.’

He answers in haste with a copy of ‘I am Malala’ in his hand.

‘Good, that’s a much better choice, I’ve read that myself and it’s really good, her life in Pakistan and the build-up to her getting shot by the Taliban.’

Again, he looks enthused and smiles back at me:

‘I might read it after her myself.’

I smile back wistfully.

‘I think I best get the pink feminist book and keep in touch with the younger generation are thinking. I might only read it in small section though.’

We pay separately but leave together, stopping by the exit we smile at each other, as he leaves he utters:

‘See you again some time.’

‘Yes..’

As I walk toward Allerton, passing the Sali Army playing Christmas carols, my smile brims ear to ear and I chuckly silently to myself.

Ensigns make a mark at the Museum

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Last Saturday saw a line of children and adults, tots and basically those mortal getting involved with the fun of flag making. The last weekend of the Liverpool Irish Festival took the Rags Boutique workshop to the contemporary interior to the Museum of Liverpool.

A wonderful day spent with a colourful bag recycling project on the iconic waterfront. We saw identities being identified through the Greens of Ireland, the Red, White and Blue of Britain and the Purples of Feminism.

Flagpoles on the hole of the day and adults which showed us they still knew how to play dress up!

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Cardboard Castles

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Are you king of your cardboard castle?

Castles were strong fortresses built to withstand invasion. Saxon Castles were wooden structures, mounds of earth now, grassy peaks protruding from the ground level. Still standing up as always but no longer fit for purpose.

The middle ages saw the use of stone to create strongholds were the Lords ruled the battlements. Lines of arches were arrows could be fired from, surrounded by motes and drawbridges to hinder attack.

100 years ago the First World War saw the emergence of new-style fortresses. The underground variety located within the complex network systems of the trenches. Built-in below the surface to withstand the ongoing bombardment. Little mud cabin forms, mantelpiece like structures temporarily decorated with images of loved ones.

A century on what are today’s fortresses: cardboard.

Is this an example of vagrancy? King of the cardboard city. The temporary housing villages created by the nations homeless communities. Safety and security which can be found with others in parallel situations. Warmth and shelter created from communal fires and the cardboard which houses their inhabitants. Every city has a Major, so the underworld must have a King of the Cardboard Castle?

Are cardboard castles a new concept akin to that of the ‘Plastic Gangster’. The king-style leaders of gangland armed with the plastic imitation weapons of infancy. Is it a paradox similar to the new style treble glazing which costs a fortune but claims to pay for itself through savings in fuel bills and rises in property value. The audio version, that can be downloaded, of the book you don’t have to bother reading. A falsehood, a castle which is weather consumable where protection of extreme limitation is offered.

Could the Cardboard castle be a statement for the future: Recyclable. Was the vision created to make a temporary art form, to be consumed by the public, then recycled through the ease of our green processing plants. Is the new King of the Castle to be a leading eco-warrior? Will we be lead towards a sustainable future by environmentally friendly processes?

The King of the Cardboard Castle to be the leader of the cardboard city, the plastic gangster with the falsehood of might or the modern force of the eco-warrior?

You decide….

Take away Lobster to Liverpool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Map

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


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

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

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Eco Chamber

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Eco Chamber is the latest sculptural commission from North West Based artist Alison Little. As part of the Liverpool Independents 2018 Biennial it will form part of the Rimrose Valley Country Park environment art trail.

 

Concept: Eco Chamber is to be a form created solely from re-claimed materials, a large pod-like structure, fully spherical. The skeleton of the structures is formed from waste car tires rims structure into spherical forms giving the impression of large atom-like shape. The tire rims are wrapped in bio-degradable green garden waste bags adapting traditional crochet techniques to contemporary practise. Plastic bag usage is essential to the ‘Green’ methodology with them being a major contributor to waste culture in the UK and globally. Some element of green incorporated within the mainly white forms, adding to the ‘Green’ credential but not taking complete control of the colour spectrum. The intention is form to forms to stand out, but not to obscure the urban landscape, Sculptural form which will work will the existing environment. Although made entirely from man made materials and 20th and 21st century manufacturing processes the materials and the working process produce a very organic form. Similar in appearance to traditional thatch works, the medium of plastic bag having straw-like qualities and the use of circular forms commonplace . Using foliage adds to the environmental elements of the chamber, use of beans and sweetcorn plants which are in season at the proposed period adding purpose to the aesthetic. The chamber will be around 2 meters high, a strong visual forms which stamp an environmental message on the festival.

Biennial Independents

Rimrose Valley Country Park

 

A-Z of Remarkable Men

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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.

Arts Hub

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