Do we need a Miss Liverpool?

Miss Liverpool copy

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?

Lucy Whittaker, former winner, Impact modelling

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?

Previous winners

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….

Please Comment below.

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Park Benched

 

rainbow

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

 

Artist Talk: The Female Suspension

Legs one image copy

The Female suspension is an installation which addresses a world of sexual violence. The lower bodies and limbs of numerous women who have been raped are suspended by chained, hooks penetrating their groins. Meat like, a waste product, violated then disposed of like an animal carcass meat still to be stripped from the bones.

This will be the fourth installation to take over at 5 Bold Place as part of the art in windows project. Art in Windows is a small organisation that works with landlords and artists to commission and curate temporary and permanent artworks for display in empty windows in and around Liverpool. Windows have varied from those in empty shops in the city centre and on local high streets, to empty units in shopping centres and even in houses on residential streets. Art in Windows’ displays range from a single installation for two weeks, to a series of different installations across many months.

The form is a female abdomen and legs extending down to the feet. Each represents a rape victim, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate:

Global estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

(WHO, media centre, Violence against women, fact sheet, updated November 2016)

The charity Rape Crisis England and Wales respond to an average of 3,000 calls per month from women who have been raped. In April 2017 there were 422 recorded violent and sex offences recorded in Liverpool alone. It is estimated that only one in every ten incidents of rape are reported to the Police: the actual figure is projected to be much higher.

Polythene and shredded paper are used to create each of the sculptural works, red toned papers are used around the groin area to reflect the pain suffered from the attack. Wire wool is used to represent the pubic hair, this demonstrates resistance from the violation. The lack of upper body and stones in the feet show a woman who was unable to oppose the onslaught. The hook is driven through the groin area, this enables us to reflect upon the extreme violence used in sex attacks. We view to forms suspended in a warehouse environment, infinite in number and we are given the impression that more will simply be added to the collection.

Alison Little, the artist behind the Female Suspension, she has been North -West based for the last decade and worked on commissions from the Superlambanana trail to the Penguins. Her most recent conceptual works are SV: Sex by Violence, a series of four animated sculptures which show the different stages of a sex attack. They were exhibited in a solo show at zauhause gallery, Gostins Hanover Street (Liverpool City Centre) in July of 2017. In the months prior to this, she curated a group show ‘Shatter the Silence, Violence against women’ held at the Quaker Meeting House, School Lane (Liverpool City Centre). ‘Life from the Waist Down’ is the fourth of the series, representing the recovery process it was exhibited at Unit 51, Baltic Triangle (Liverpool) for 2016 Mental Health week. On the previous year she showed Brainscape as similar human head form and in 2014 Bipolar B was created for the celebrations at the Williamson Gallery in Birkenhead. In 2016 she worked on a commission for the race equality centre in Derby where a polyethene figure and a broken wheelchair were created to draw attention to race hate crime. Her first work relating the sexual violence was in 2014 for the Speaking Out exhibition at Embrace Arts, University of Leicester. The work was exhibited and Alison attended the Speaking Out conference where she addressed the delegates on the thought processes behind her work. Prior to that, she ran a successful funding bid and project managed the prospering ‘Rags Boutique’ as part of the ‘Shops up Front’ scheme from Liverpool City Council. This was an exhibition space and workshop venue was the use of found object was utilised to maximum effect. Alison helps Organise the Reclaim the Night March held in spring in Liverpool annually. The intentions behind the exhibition as a means of activism against sexual violence and to play its role in her campaign work.

The Female Suspension which will shock, inform, evoke debate and lead to social reform in direct regards to Rape crime.

Exhibition runs from the 5th of March, 5 Bold Place, Liverpool, L1 9DN

Free view from Street location.

Artist Talk to be held on International Women’s Day, Thursday the 8th of March from 6.30-7pm. Talk starting at Bold Place then either being held inside or to be moved to another location possible to be provided by John Moores Uni. Details to be confirmed, to book:

Free Ticket

Art in Windows

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Consequential

Copy me blog

Consequential is the final chapter of Casual Nexus, the novel being written by Alison Little, this is an extract from the chapter. The characters and events are not based on real people or occurrences.

Bea Richards has also heard about the exhibition which Sal had got work into earlier in the week. Like Kate, she had also remained in the area. Not amongst the student though, as minor aristocracy her Father had decided that she should remain in the parental home throughout her University years and his long-term vision was she should continue to live there even after she married someone suitable. After all his parents who had been first cousins had not got married to ensure that the finances stayed within the family for his daughter to go and reside in some student hovel!

Bea thought over the degree show, she had done well from sales, much better than everyone including Sal. After a year everything seemed to have dribbled off, she needed new designs and without the help of the Art Lecturers, she didn’t know what to make. She was owed money from several small handmade shops but was too scared to phone up and inquire about cheques being processed. She thought about how Sal wouldn’t have these problems, she would probably go to her exhibition opening, talk to everyone, sell her work and all the galleries would want her and her artwork. Remembering Sal’s confidence, her ability to talk to everyone and anyone of all ages and all different backgrounds. Her Father, as a Senior Officer had used the Police’s computer system to look to look into Sal’s family background and concluded that she was, in fact, working class and related to many undesirables and even one prostitute. Bea knew the reality of their year at Uni, everyone had looked at Sal as the classy number and despite being aristocracy she had come off as some kind of number two. Sal was the one everyone had wanted to be friends with, she was at the centre of all the student parties while Bea made polite conversation over dinner with extended family members who seemed to be related to both her Parents on an equal footing. Reminiscing over how streetwise Sal was, how she had known about Bea’s boyfriend had been sleeping with prostitutes all along when she had no idea about what was going on.

Bea thinks back to the meeting she had been asked in for at the Police Station last month. As Sal had moved away her Police file had gone to a new Force and different Officers were investigating the open crimes. They had wanted details on what Sal had been subjected to as a child, she had not realised that Sal had been sexually abused. The Officers asked her further details about where Sal had been in the States and when she had no information they had stated that it was important because it was in regards to a serious rape case. It wasn’t her fault she didn’t know anything. Next, they inquired over the report Bea had written where she had been abrupt with herself, asking if that could have been a reaction to the pressure she was under due to the stalker who was following her around? In response she had said she didn’t know, she was then questioned over why she had not given a more detailed Police report in regards to the stalker coming into the degree show. At that point, Bea started to cry and left the room.

On leaving the room she overheard one of the Officers ask the other:

‘Why didn’t they send in someone more attractive and much classier?’

Bea then began to sob loudly and went on route to find her Father in the office he had frequented for many years. She explained to him what had happened and that she didn’t know anything about the rape case and went through again who Sal was going to copy her after the degree show. Her Father then shot out of his seat so abruptly that he almost fell over,

‘I will speak to them.’

He directed, as he marches off Bea follows him and listens by the door. He began by insisting that his daughter was not expected to know anything about a rape case and that this ‘Sal’ brought trouble on herself. He progressed to ask what would have happened if the stalker had started following Bea around and that his daughter was there to be protected. The subject of Bea being vulnerable was raised and the matter of Sal being abrupt with her an absolute atrocity. Finishing off the discussion with how upset Bea had been after the degree show because Sal was going to copy her work. The two Officers were then subjected to a long rant about how Sal had been so jealous of his daughter. They decided not to answer any of his accusations, it was clearly another Senior Officer unable to acknowledge the failings of his offspring.

Later at the Police Station Bea files a report raising the mater of Sal’s exhibition and suggested that she had probably submitted work similar to her as she had been intending to copy her after the degree show. Tears flow down her face and smudge the ink she has been writing with, she thinks nothing of Sal’s brother who abuse her, nothing of the man who had raped her or the stalker who followed her constant for a year. Bea cries in pity for herself, the tears on the Police report acknowledge the inadequacies of the Policewomen and the failings of the Organisation.