Dazzle Ferry

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During our recent visit to Liverpool I spotted “Everybody Razzle Dazzle”  pulling into the Pier Head ferry terminal. The light was better than last time I photographed the ferry so I snapped a shot.

The jazzy design was created by Sir Peter Blake as part of the First World War commemorations and was inspired by the Dazzle camouflage used on merchant ships transporting goods across the Atlantic during the First World War as a way of confusing U-boats.

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“Affecting Change” at the Open Eye

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While we were in Liverpool last weekend we called into the Open Eye Gallery which is located in one of the modern glass buildings at Man Island near the Pier Head. The photographic gallery is in it’s 40th year and it’s always worth  a visit to have a look at whatever exhibition is on. We’ve seen some excellent photographs and discovered some talented photographers during our visits.

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The current exhibition Affecting Change

looks at how real change is made today, and what role photography has in that process. The exhibition features five rising photographers working in the North West.

The works on show look into the daily lives of people working hard to transform the lives of others. The artists have worked in collaboration with various collectives across Liverpool, a city renowned for transcending insular politics by championing positive change.

There’s even an opportunity for visitors to contribute their views on how to affect change, originally by writing on the wall (see photo at the head of this post), but as this has become filled up (obviously plenty of people have views on this!) the comments have to be written on sticky notes that can be stuck to the nearby door.

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Addressing the issue of how migrants are treated, Yetunde Adebiyi has produced a series of photographs based around the work of Between the Borders, an organisation dedicated to improving the experiences of asylum seekers.

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I particularly liked the wall of photographs by Jane MacNeil 

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There are controversial plans to redevelop the North Docks area on the Liverpool waterfront. A lot of the publicity has focused on how the development could affect the look of the historic waterfront with talk of removing its Unesco world heritage site status. There’s been less written about the affect a major development will have on the people currently living and working there. Working with the North Docks Community Group, the photographer has produced a series of images , featuring people from the local community and the places where they live and work.

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Jane MacNeil usually specialises in street photography, so this series based on posed portraits is something of a departure for her. But a successful one in my view.

Upstairs, Danny Ryder has recreated the inside of the not-for-profit radical bookshop News From Nowhere. Now located in Bold Street, a street of independent shops, many years ago I used to spend many an hour browsing the shelves in the shop in its original location near the entrance to the Queensway Mersey Tunnel.

The replica bookshop also functions as a reading room and social space, with seating and hot drinks provided.

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Summer of Love Bugs in Liverpool

We were in Liverpool on Monday, the last Bank Holiday until Christmas. It was a warm sunny day and while we were strolling through the Liverpool One shopping centre we spotted this rather jazzy Beetle.

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Liverpool never misses a chance to take a collection of objects, paint them up with different designs and leave them in strategic locations around the city – all starting with the 125 two-metre-high Superlambananas  during Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. So this looked like it might be another series.

Not quite. In this case there were only 3 VW Beetles that had been decorated to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, when 100,000 musicians, artists and hippies flocked to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Three artists had been commissioned by Liverpool One to create images on the cars. The first one we saw, on Thomas Steers Way, was painted with a psychedelic design by Kieran Gorman from Zap Graffiti.

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The other two cars, both on Paradise Street, were painted with Beatles related themes by Krishna Malla .

One based on the Beatles song, Penny Lane, selected following a vote for the Liverpool public’s favourite song from 1967.

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I lived near there for a year when I was at University. I loved the green Liverpool Corporation buses – but they all went when the “deregulation” was enacted by the Thatcher regime. Now all the local colour of  municipally owned bus companies has gone, replaced by the 2 or 3 national monopolies with their uniform liveries across the country.

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And the second Beatle Beetle, celebrating the Sergeant Pepper LP that was released in 1967

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Here’s the Fab Four

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and a list of the songs on the LP

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RIBA North

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While we were in Liverpool recently we called into RIBA North which opened recently.  it’s the northern HQ for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and it’s located next door to the Open Eye Gallery in the Mann Island development at the Pier Head in Liverpool. As well as offices and meeting rooms there’s a café, a shop a couple of exhibition spaces where they’re currently showing Liverpool(e): Mover Shaker Architectural Risk-Taker  an exhibition of photographs and plans from the RIBA collection of buildings in Liverpool, including some which were never realised. The exhibition also includes a video presentation about four iconic buildings in the city.  In the second gallery space there’s an interactive 3D digital model of the centre of Liverpool and a play area for children.

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Outside in the in Winter Gardens, a covered public area immediately outside the entrance, there’s a large art work, Un-Veiled,  produced to mark the opening of RIBA North which was created by Architects KHBT – Karsten Huneck and Bernd Truempler.It’s made of curtains of mesh fabric, used on building site scaffolding, cut to form sections of some of the North’s iconic modern buildings – The Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, Imperial War Museum North, Liverpool Catholic Cathedral and York Minster

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You can walk into the “pavilion” and wander around inside, which was quite fun.

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However, I couldn’t recognise the sections of the buildings!

William Blake at Tate Liverpool

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Satan smiting Job with boils

Tracey Emin’s bed was being shown as part of an exhibition which is meant to explore the connection between this controversial work and the paintings of William Blake.

According to the Tate

This new display affirms Blake’s Romantic idea of artistic truth through existential pain and the possibility of spiritual rebirth through art, shared in the work of Tracey Emin.

I have to say I found it difficult to see any real connection – if there is one it is rather tenuous. But it was great to see a significant collection of magnificent prints and drawings by Blake, most of which I hadn’t seen before “in the flesh”, displayed together in Liverpool. A real treat.

William Blake is something of a hero of mine. As well as a visual artist – a painter and printmaker – he is also well known as a poet. He was a political radical – a supporter of the French Revolution – and a religious visionary.

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(Picture source : Wikipedia)

He was also an innovator, developing a printing technique known as relief etching and used it to print most of his poetry. He called the technique illuminated printing and the poetry illuminated books. Many of the works on display in the exhibition were created using this process.

This is just a small selection of them

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Pity (c 1795)

This image is taken from Macbeth: ‘pity, like a naked newborn babe / Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubim horsed / Upon the sightless couriers of the air’. Blake draws on popularly-held associations between a fair complexion and moral purity. These connections are also made by Lavater, who writes that ‘the grey is the tenderest of horses, and, we may here add, that people with light hair, if not effeminate, are yet, it is well known, of tender formation and constitution’. (Tate website)

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The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve c.1826

This work shows Adam and Eve discovering their dead son. His brother Cain, the murderer, flees the scene. Despite his evil deed, Cain, appears as an ideal male figure. (Tate website)

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Nebuchadnezzar 1795–c.1805

 

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The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy (formerly called ‘Hecate’) circa 1795

Enitharmon is an important female character in Blake’s mythology, playing a main part in some of his prophetic books. She is the Emanation of Los, and with Los gives birth to various children, including Orc. Although symbolising spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration (some critics have argued that Blake’s wife Catherine was the inspiration for the character) she is also used by Blake to represent female domination and sexual restraints that limit the artistic imagination (Tate website)