Wednesday evening saw the opening of; John Moores Painting Prize, the Rise of the Sixties in Liverpool, at the Exhibition Research Lab of John Moores University. The fresh white interior of the John Lennon Art and Design Building provided the exhibition venue, brought to life by an evening of the performance. Stimulating music, spoken word and monologues were accompanied by illuminating visual arts responses.
Hand Held Destinies is a spoken word piece written and performed by Alison Little on the evening. Created as a response to a photo exhibit from 1968 of two girls playing in the sea shores of New Brighton:
Hand Held Destinies
Girls hold hands in friendship.
Elegant in play
Eight years old
Born in 1960
The decade which changed Liverpool, Britain and the World
1960 saw the introduction of the pill
We had effective contraception
The Sexual Revolution
We got richer
As they play in the swath they are attractive in their childhood. Swimsuits made for play, hair it’s natural colour, tresses they are not afraid to get wet. Sand grit, Sea and the salt of the shores adorn their sun-soaked bodies.
Today we have the modern day falsehood of youth. Primark churning out padded bras for pre-teens. Claire’s accessories piercing collections of hoops and studs to the lobes of innocence. Youthful visions of success; to appear on celebrity love island, becoming a WAG or to acquire a cosmetically enhanced bosom larger than Jordan’s.
An era when British beach holidays ruled the waves. Stripped deckchairs, the bucket and spade, splendour of Punch and Judy. Taken over by the package holiday: routes to the warmer destinations of Southern Europe. Made redundant for a second time by the cheap flights of the digital buyers market.
Background, we have sea vessels and the Albert Dock, it’s function then for shipping. Today, as the girls head to retirement we have shipping in its last days of decline. We have a dock surplus of its intended purpose.
Sea Faring industrialism replaced
A cultural haven
Museum of Liverpool
A new Future
A future of tourists
A cheap flight destination
The ‘Must take in’ city of Liverpool
A city revived
An end of mass unemployment
The striking city no more
The legacy of the Capital of Culture Year
Their playscape is now a Metropolis challenging globally.
But to the padded bras, the stud lined ears and fixations with celebrity culture we have the bucket.
A return to the beauty of innocence bathing in the optimism of the future.
Exhibition continues throughout April.
Main photograph credited the Graham Smillie.