Public Art, Liverpool
There are so many monuments and name checks to the Beatles as a group and as individuals you can encounter things which have a name but actually commemorate one of the Fab Four. This is a commemoration to John Lennon as well as European Peace.
As ever, cities like Liverpool have a huge amount of street art and sculpture. This was an unexpected find as we walked from one of the Cathedrals to the other.
The sculpture is the work of John King, and it was installed in 1998. It shows 27 cases and bags belonging to well known people from Liverpool.
Note: the internet link will take you to the blog of "Freedom's Orator".
27 bags of famous Liverpudlians from the Hope Street Quarter, designed by John King in 1998. John Lennon is represented by the guitar. Others include Giles Gilbert Scott (architect of the Anglican Cathedral) and Charles Dickens. A board explains the who is who of the bags. The sculpture is a little deteriorated.
It has become quite popular in Europe to make plastic sculptures and give them to local artists do decorate. These are local symbols like bears in Berlin, the four city musicians from Bremen and many more. Liverpool has the Superlambanana, a creature half lamb – half banana. The Japanese artist Taro Chiezo who created it said that it symbolizes the goods which made Liverpool rich: Wool trade and the trade of overseas goods like bananas. Some people say that it is supposed to warn about the risks of genetic engineering, others say its a calf with a giant banana stuck in its rear part. I asked myself if it is suitable for vegetarians. Well, no one really seems to understand the sculpture beyond that point. It's one of things you either love or hate.
The original Superlambanana is around five metres tall and yellow. It was unveiled in 2008 has been placed in several locations in Liverpool. In total 133 small Superlambanananas have been produced, each with a different livery. These small ones are rather human-sized. The eight youngest are from 2010, all others produced for 2008 when Liverpool was the European Capital of culture. As of 2013, the 2010 Superlambananas are located at the Mersey around the Museum of Liverpool However, all others (including the big one) are frequently moved around the city and pop up at unexpected places.
If you enjoy public art projects you really should see the Metroscopes by Clive Gillman. The metroscopes are five large circular digital displays that constantly change. Each one represents Liverpool and one of its twin cities (Odessa, Dublin, Shanghai and Koln).
Why are they so great?
Well, each metroscope automatically hunts the internet for live information on the city using the search phrase 'Liverpool is..' 'Shanghai is..' etc. displaying what it finds on the Metroscope. They do this 24 hours a day acting as a barometer for current thinking about our great cities
For me they capture the essence of how important the ebb and flow of information has become to our lives. The fact that they do this without human intervention adds a certain science fiction like quality to the project.
Located on William Brown Street, the Walker Art gallery is said to host one of the best collections of art and sculptures in Britain.
As with most of the museums and art galleries in Liverpool admission is free, and you won't have to look far for more museums and galleries.
The Walker is open Monday - Saturday (10am - 5pm) and Sunday (12 noon - 5pm), although check their website to make sure.
What in heaven's name is planxty writing about now, you may well be asking yourself. A Superlambanana, whatever is that? a good question and one I would not have been able to answer until my recent visit to Liverpool.
As you can see from the photo, fairly obvious I suppose, is that it is a half lamb and half banana. Yes, I know it sounds mad, but it exists. The Superlambanana is a work of "art" by a Japanese artist called Taro Chiezo completed in 1998. It was originally intended apparently to show the dangers of genetically modified food, although a secondary explanation has emerged which is that Liverpool, always a busy seaport, was known for trade in both lamb and bananas.
The original, an impressive 17 feet tall, currently stands at the corner of Tithebarn Street and Vauxhall Road but you can see smaller versions just about everywhere. I have shown two examples here, the photographer Superlambanana is in the National Conservation Centre (see seperate tip) and the smaller one sits proudly atop the bar of the very decent Grapes pub near the city centre.
If you go to Liverpool, see how many you can spot!
The mere act of me writing this tip is actually a testament to a dear friend of mine. Nadean (Dino to her friends) is an art student easily young enough to be my daughter, in fact she calls me Da for a joke and some people actually believe it. I am a self-confessed artphobe, if such a word exists, well not so much phobic as I just had no interest whatsoever in art. It left me completely cold, especially so-called modern art. My tip on Tate Modern, London is a case in point. Actually, she has not convinced me of the value of modern art yet, but she is doing her level best to turn me onto art in general.
Having said all that, purely voluntarily on a recent trip to Liverpool and inspired by Dino's prompting, I visited the Walker art gallery in the centre and I actually enjoyed it. OK, it is probably more my kind of art, namely things that look like what they are meant to, not buckets of pig blood thrown randomly on walls or whatever.
Set in a wonderful old building, itself a work of art as shown, there is a large collection of very interesting exhibits. I was very surprised to find a painting that I actually knew the name of without looking at the annotation. It was "And when did you last see your father?" by William Frederick Yeames (1835 - 1918) which used to be a favourite print in living rooms at home some years ago. It was purchased in 1878 for the princely sum of £750. I dread to think what it is worth now.
The whole collection has a very long history, beginning in 1819, lthough the present building was not opened until 1877, and they describe themselves as a "gallery for the North." I think this is a good thing as so much of everything in England seems centred on London.
There were many other exhibits I enjoyed including a very detailed, although stylised, rendition of the death of Nelson. So, thanks Dino, and if like me you like your art to look like art, this place really is worth a visit.
Throughout the city there are many examples of public art on display. In my short time there, I managed to photograph three of them connected with entertainment.
Eleanor Rigby, from The Beatles song, is on Stanley Street. Albert Dock is the location of singer Billy Fury. In Lime Street Station you'll find comedian Ken Dodd.
This is John King's sculpture of suitcases. Installed just a few years ago it attracts only a few visitors. Each suitcase is individually labled, as they usually are, with the name of the owners, well known Liverpool people.
Located on Pier Head is the Engineers' Memorial, commonly called the Titanic memorial (although the word Titanic is not inscribed on the memorial). The connection to Liverpool is that Titanic's registered home port was Liverpool, but she actually sailed out of Southhampton. Nonetheless, her owners, lots of the crew including her chief officer, chief engineer, and a member of the heroic band were from Liverpool.
The memorial was comissioned to remember the heroism and devotion to duty shown by the ship's engineers, who remained at their posts operating electrical and pumping equipment to ensure the ship remained afloat for as long as was possible.
It bears the following inscription:
IN HONOUR OF ALL HEROES OF THE MARINE ENGINE ROOM
The Super Lamb Banana was the original work of Japanese-based artist Taro Chiezo. Commissioned for the Art Transpennine Exhibition of 1998, the sculpture was a controversial, but welcome addition to the public art arena in Liverpool. Standing an impressive seventeen feet tall and comprised of concrete and steel, the statue first attracted interest from its original position on the Strand. The unusual artwork was created to warn of the dangers of genetically modified food, whilst being appropriate to the city of Liverpool due to the port's rich history in the trade of lambs and the import of bananas.
I didn't get to see the orginal lamb-banana but this one is situated in the tourist information office at 08 Place.
For those who admire the work of graffiti artist Bansky scamper on down to Chinatown to admire his largest UK work. This huge image of a rat with a machine gun was commissioned back in 2004 as part of Liverpool’s Biennial Festival. Even today the art work continues to generate controversy. Ironically the cave dwelling city council whose previous cock ups included knocking down the original Cavern considered it an eyesore and wanted it covered over for (I joke not) Capital of Culture Year!
Artist Tracey Emin is a great fan of Liverpool and I just love her most recent contribution to the city. Tracey's work is often surrounded in controversy and enrages the narrow minded members of our population. Her sculpture ' Roman Standard' was no exception. Funded by the BBC at a cost of £60,000 this tiny bird on a four metre bronze pole produced the predictable outcry of '£60,000 for a little bird on a pole - ludicrous'.
In my view however Tracey has produced something that challenges the historical approach to public sculpture -often large dark and oppressive symbols of power.
The tiny bird is located in the shadow of the Anglican Cathedral - a location that serves to emphasize its tiny size. The bird disappears when viewed from the front appearing again like magic as you move from left to right.
Many other Liverpool VT sites make mention of Taro Chiezo's SuperLamb Banana and quite right too this is a great example of how sculpture can be great fun whilst also conveying something important - (Taro describes SuperLamb as a parody of genetic engineering).
Anyway please note the lamb has recently been on the move and is currently resting on the corner of Tithebarn Street outside one of the many LJM University buildings