Moving Through- Liverpool- day 1

I left Birmingham New Street Station on my way to meet other FAD students at Liverpool Lime Street.

Memories are made of this:

So they flow………

Strangely excited by this trip because  I’ve only been to Liverpool once before: in 1974 to see Roxy Music at the Empire.  I was there on the 16th it will be exactly 41 years ago!

This was a cool thing to do. I remember stopping off for a stroll on the prom in Cleveleys on the way home……. It wasn’t on the way home…. At about 1am and then going to school the next day. The boyfriend who took me had driven into the back of my neighbour’s car only a few weeks earlier…..

Actually I have been another time  with a friend on the way back from a wet week in Wales in her mini- via the Mersey Tunnel. We stopped off to see her boyfriend somewhere in the suburbs. His mother and father had died and he had recently had a fire damaged the kitchen badly… Black smoke damage. I sat in the ‘front room’ and ate Polo mints until they came downstairs and we went home…

The station at Brum has been an almighty mess for 2 years or more so that every time you went  you felt as if you had been transported into a parallel and confusing universe. It is now amazing and beautiful.

I love stations and airports…. Places of transition, leaving and arrival even when they are a mess. This space is open and light and beautiful and says a lot about Brum and its openness. It feels multi national and multicultural and not closed and statutory….or stationary! Ready for the next stage whatever that is . I got on the Liverpool train at platform 4c the ‘extra ‘ platform like the immaterial one in Harry Potter.. 4 and a quarter or some such. I used to get on here to go to work at NAG Walsall.


Got to Liverpool and met the other Students and Jonathan  – Philip and his mum, Alejandro and Tristan. Went to the Walker to see contemporary paintings and think about Victorian Philanthropy which created the place. It was good to just enjoy looking at paintings.This is one that particularly interested me from the permanent collection. It refers tosegantini2                                                            The Punishment of Luxury by Giovanni Segantini

The Punishment of Lust / Luxury belongs to a series of paintings produced between 1891-96 on the theme of bad mothers (cattive madri). Segantini was inspired by Nirvana, a poem written by the 12th century monk Luigi Illica in imitation of the Indian text Panghiavahli. Illica’s poem contained the phrase ‘la Mala Madre’ (the bad or wicked mother with an echo similar to ‘la mala femmina’ or prostitute) to describe those women who refused the responsibilities of motherhood.

The souls of the women are depicted floating against a snowy background based on the Swiss Alps where Segantini spent much of his life.  In the painting the spirits of the women are punished for having committed the sin of abortion consciously or by neglect. Segantini had lost his mother when he was seven years old and was probably passionate to represent the trauma of the mother for the loss of her child. Segantini believed that a woman’s role in life was motherhood and that a woman who objects to this role was mean, bad or selfish. His beliefs drew from both religious and metaphysical ideas: the sanctity and motherhood of the Virgin Mary combined with the fertility of nature. 

Segantini came from a country shaped by catholicism. Although in his private life he never conformed to catholic doctrine, for example he refused to marry his partner and mother of his four children, his work was strongly influenced by religious ideas. Walker Art Gallery

apparently his mother didn’t cope well with motherhood……..

Then we went to the Bluecoat Gallery  and saw the Niamh O’Malley which was amazing. The sculptural work was beautifully crafted wood perfectly constructed frames and layered glass with paint and pencil and other media on both surfaces. interesting as I’d just been to see Helen Slater about working in her studio on some glass pieces (Weighing of Souls ).  O’ Malley’s video work was very beautiful and skilful too. I really enjoyed the whole exhibition. Her ways of layering and using marks on both sides of glass could be very useful although there are obvious differences in concepts, from mine. I’ve included a slide show of some images from a split screen video which was excellent. I liked the content too, the intimate landscape behind the glass. And the lack of colour to prevent distraction.


There was also a gallery upstairs which was a sort of Reading Room. Fascinating.

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After this we went to Crosby Beach to see the Anthony Gormley installation. I’m not a huge AG fan for reasons I waxed lyrical about over lunch and once made a series of works as a response to Event Horizon, but I did enjoy this,

Another Place :

 Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea.The Another Place figures – each one weighing 650 kilos – are made from casts of the artist’s own body standing on the beach, all of them looking out to sea, staring at the horizon in silent expectation . According to Antony Gormley, Another Place harnesses the ebb and flow of the tide to explore man’s relationship with nature. He explains: The seaside is a good place to do this. Here time is tested by tide, architecture by the elements and the prevalence of sky seems to question the earth’s substance. In this work human life is tested against planetary time. This sculpture exposes to light and time the nakedness of a particular and peculiar body. It is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.

Especially Alejandro and his suitcase! There was a certain melancholy that was emphasised by going to see them at sunset  and yet a poignant humour which I haven’t picked up on in Gormley’s work before .

It felt very ‘special’ for me to be there, as it was my first trip to the sea this year..I had thought it would be the first year of my life that I hadn’t made contact.

I could see the lights of Blackpool in the distance and felt almost home especially as the mountains of Snowdonia were just visible on the other side of the Mersey.

We talked about the movement of cargo into Liverpool docks and beyond and the implications… past and present.

We didn’t walk far…just stood and looked….a bit like Anthony.

Then we went for food at a veggie place Jonathan something out of the ’70’s but good food and atmosphere.

The evening finished for me with the discussion about robotics and possible Singularity. I went off to stay in the Adelphi: I can’t resist nostalgia..after all, it isn’t what it used to be ( old joke).


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