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

 

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A Letter to Fat Fiasol’ Mother

Fat Fiasol env copy

A Letter to Fat Fiasol’ Mother is a flash fiction piece from Alison Little. She created the prose as an exercise while writing her novel, Casual Nexus. The piece adopts the point of view of the main character of the narrative: Sal and is directed towards the Mother of an undercover Police Officer who failed her through his role as a detective. The Mother is shown to be deluded in regards to the warped characteristics of her only son and unashamed of his conduct. All characters and events are fictional and not based on actual occurrences.

Explicit Content Warning

Fat Fiasol

A Letter to his Mother

Why your Son was not good enough for me!

So who was Fat Fiasol? He was an undercover copper sent to me to see what he could decipher, to find out, to gain knowledge of and to obtain answers. A rat, a serpent, a man with no boundaries, a man who was not good enough for me. A man who seeks to manipulate women, to lie, to misguide, and to get them to play along to his warped agenda. While all along his real goals are for the respect of men: touching their balls, laughing at their jokes too much and playing the suck up. Overweight, unfit, poorly presented, egotistic, over talked, over domineering and a man who was not good enough for me! A man who regretfully I engaged in a brief relationship with, a minor interlude, a brief fling, a bit on the side, a non-committal affair. Something which I deeply regret to this day, as he was not good enough for me!

So, back to Fat Fiasol’ Mother

Reasons why he was not good enough for me!

  1. He talks to much and he refuses to listen to reason. When we were together for a brief period, a very brief period, he was told by one of the other girls in the year above us at Uni that I had slept with one of his former House Mates Goth. As in the case of all student houses everyone is boxed in like caged hens, one goes and another one comes in. And the chickens collude with who is there and then who comes along after, there is no long-term commitment, no promises are made and the monogamy of adulthood is yet to take shape after your University days. However, in this case, I had not slept with his former room dweller, it has been one of the other girls, Kate, the mistake in being that she also had red hair. When I tried to explain this to your son, he would not listen, take it in, or recognise that a mistake had been made. His head stuck in his idea of what had happened, no notice of my words was taken. Only when Goth had come to visit I had asked him to explain did he actually listen to what he was being told. Finally, I had got through to his thick head.
  1. He is over domineering and he aims to control women. Again, on one occasion there was no reasoning with him and he went over the top using some of the most degrading language any woman should have to endure. In this I walked out in tears, found by my friend Kaz, she then suggested we go shopping together to cheer me up. I agreeing we walked to town, she didn’t ask what has happened but it was obvious, managing to stop crying we went in to look around River Island. As we went around looking at the clothes my phone began to ring, which I ignored, then a second time which I ignored again, then on the third time I answered the phoned and told your son:‘Just Fuck Off, al-right’

    This was to the delight of all the women in the store as it was really obvious what had been going on. Kaz then had a great idea, as Anne Summers was next door, she suggested we go and look at the vibrators, my response being

    ‘Yes lets’

    As we discussed which one to go for all the women that had been shopping in River Island gradually came into Anne Summers as looking at the vibrators also seemed like a good idea. So somewhere between retail therapy and the discussion of dildo’s I forgot any feelings I had for your son.

  2. His warped interested in internet porn. In hanging out around his share house my self and one of my friends Gay Tigger had been getting stoned together, I was starting to think there might be something going on between your son and Gay Tigger so I pretended I had passed out and let them get on with whatever was happening. I heard then start up Fiasol’ PC and worked out they were looking at what he had ‘Stored’ on his hard drive. I realised that this was porn and held back, I heard Fiasol say,‘Wait for it, it’s about to come out’

    In this I was imagining some sort of gay porn where the man was about the ejaculate, I sat up very slowly to look at what was going on without them becoming aware of my presence. What I actually saw was worse than I had imaged, it was a woman shitting slowing, he had been waiting for the shit to start coming out, it had been turning him on and I had been with him…. I felt sick and left. I found some sanctuary when I bumped into the girl he had gone out with after myself and she also felt sick about ever having been in a sexual relationship with the man.

  3. The bazaar sex life we shared in which he was overly dominant. The main activity seemed to be turning me around cuddling up behind me, placing his minuscule only ever semi-erect penis between my bum cheeks, but never fully inside. His kind of moving it to and throw for a very short space of time followed by some sort of mini ejaculation like a toddler sneezing producing very little substance. This was then followed by a Police report about how I enjoyed anal sex because he wanted to boast to everybody at the Police station. 

     

  4. The ultimate reason why your son was not good enough for me; his interpretation of an attempted rape case. Through his only real desire to listen to his own voice, he decided to forget the reason the Police had sent him to form a relationship with myself was to find out what had happened between myself and a serial rapist and didn’t bother to ask in regards to the incident. When asked at the Police Station what had happened he made up his own version of events, leading the Police to believe I was unreliable as I had changed my story about what had happened. He was not remotely interested in doing anything about a rapist then managed to turn the angle of the investigation into how badly treated by myself he had been as this gave him the opportunity to whine on and on. Your son, the ultimate example of Police incompetence.

So Fat Fiasol’ Mother, the reasons why your son was not good enough for me! He talks too much and he won’t listen to any of the girls. He seeks to manipulate, he works to warped agenda’s, he loses sight of right and wrong. He his sick fetish tastes in porn, bazaar sexual desires, he is sexually inadequate, he is unable to get a proper erection. He was incompetent as a Police Officer in every way and most of all he was more interested in the sound of his own voice and getting his little end away than he was in doing anything about a Rapist. So Fat Fiasol’ Mother those are the reasons why your son was not good enough for me, his next girlfriend or any any other women. So instead of sitting there in defence of your offspring, I suggest you hang your head in shame.

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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Virginia Woolf and the Hours

Hours

The Hours

Three Women, One day.

Michael Cunningham’ novel, The Hours and the movie version, Directed by Stephen Daldry, gives a very accurate portrayal of Virginia Woolf beginning with her final act: suicide. The narrative intertwines the lives of three women: Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown an unhappy housewife in 1950’s Loss Angeles and Clarissa Vaughan a bisexual woman living at the end of the twentieth century in New York City. In this, we explore mortality, social roles, lesbianism and artistic endeavour throughout both the novel and the film.

The prologue begins with Virginia Woolf walking, almost marching towards the River Ouse to ultimately drown herself. On her way she stops to pick up a large stone, admiring its form as she does so. She then proceeds to enter the water, the actual death scene in the film echoing the great painting Ophelia by John Everett Millais of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood. Virginia takes in every detail of everything around her until the life has gone from her. We then switch back to 1923 when she is not so unwell, a happier time, the day when she begins to write one of her most successful novels ‘Mrs Dalloway’. Throughout the day she adds details to the novel from events which occur. After the embrace with her sister, she decides that Mrs Dalloway will have been in love with another woman when she was younger. After observing a dying bird she decides that Mrs Dalloway will commit suicide over something very trivial, a domestic choir. She later changes her mind, lets the character live but replaces the act with the suicide of a soldier. After handling her servant, Nelly badly she decides that Mrs Dalloway will be remarkably good at handling servants and writes this into the dialogue. Her sister is in fact very good with servants and her presence in the novel provides a contrast to Virginia. The production also gives a strong insight into her mental health the penultimate climax of her narrative being her journey to the train station where Leonard her devoted husband finds her and takes her home to keep her from harm’s way.

Laura Brown is living in Los Angela’s in mid-twentieth Century America. In this she is living the American Dream, she has a beautiful house, a loving husband, a war hero, a son and is expecting a second baby. However, ultimately, she is deeply unhappy with her life and the domestic role which she has been handed. This is symbolised by the Cake which she bakes for her husbands Birthday: Although the cake is perfectly adequate she wants it to be a work of art to reflect how perfect she is at domestic life, so she throws it out and starts again. Later in the novel, she becomes enraged when Dan, her husband, spits slightly when he blows out the candles. Her neighbour, Kitty, presents a contrasting character to Laura. She is loud, glamorous and was very popular at High School, where she was more interested in reading. Kitty character introduces the theme of fertility to the hours, Woolf never having children herself. Laura and Kitty embrace in a similar way the sisters earlier in the novel. Laura’ activities link to Virginia Woolf through the reading of Mrs Dalloway, taking time to ensure she reads more of the works. Her narrative climax’ in a hotel room where she seriously contemplates committing suicide. Outside of the context of the book, she fails in an attempt to commit suicide in recovery she leaves her family and moves to Canada.

Clarissa Vaughan is a bisexual woman living at the end of the twentieth century in New York City. Her character embodies the character of Mrs Dalloway in the Woolf’ novel. Her close friend and former lover, Richard is in-fact the grown-up child of Laura Brown who she abandoned. He calls Clarissa ‘Mrs Dalloway’ or ‘Mrs D’ for short. Clarissa has some doubts over her domestic set up, she is living with Sally her lover, however, it is not an exciting relationship it is mundane. Clarissa is pre-occupied with morality throughout the novel, in glimpsing a movie star she ponders over when they have died they will live on through screenings of the film. The climax of Clarissa’ narrative is the suicide of Richard, in losing his battle with Aids he decides to jump from the window of his apartment saying good buy to Clarissa before the ultimate plunge. After Richards death Laura Brown, now an elderly lady comes to meet Clarissa in New York. Clarissa does not blame Laura for leaving her family, although she witnessed Richards torture from this act she shows understanding of her actions as a mother.

This Novel and film created over half a century after Virginia Woolf’ death explore her and the writings in the greatest artist sense. Many themes are embrace throughout the three different days of three different women. On a surface level through Clarissa we see how attitudes towards sexuality have changed, acceptance being shown through her rather unremarkable same-sex relationship.

However, the suicide of Richard shows how times have not changed since Virginia’s generation. Again we have a frustrated writer, unhappy with his work mental health problems brought on by Aids who takes his own life. Could Virginia Woolf been happy in a modern climate, would she have escaped her demon’s, or would the same fate be waiting? Who knows but we certainly have a stunning novel and film which is a tribute to the Virginia Woolf we have presented here.

Alison Little