All You Need Is... Liverpool
All you need is... Liverpool is my first foray into a touch of self indulgent retrospectives of my Hometown Liverpool. I have a love-hate relationship with Liverpool, I’m not sure why but I do. I think it’s a way of constantly motivating and challenging myself about my feelings about my roots. Like many of my friends and family I escaped Liverpool in the early 90s to spread my wings along with many other sons and daughters leaving home for the first time. Only by leaving can you get an objective sense of the place and question all the assumptions you had as a kid growing up there and to see it as other non Liverpudlians see it. And also find a new appreciation of it even if it does my head in at times!
Yet I still yearn for it and the people and all that is familiar, homely. Liverpool has changed enormously in terms of its infrastructure but essentially it’s still the same, a weird and wonderful tautological enigma. My Uncle Ste (Our Ste) is my Mum’s youngest brother and by virtue of big overlapping generations Our Ste is younger than my older brother and the same age as my sis. He was desperate to have an original destruction arts, not sure why, but here it is! By way of inspiration he sent a YouTube clip of an old Pathe film about Liverpool narrated in true Cholmondley-Warner style by a former Lord Mayor. The black and white film triggered a memory of me and my mates Dave McG and Graham (Graybo) when, after completing our Art Foundation year at Liverpool Poly in Hope Place, we would trespass onto an old timber framed derelict wooden dock somewhere off the Dock Road. I can’t remember it’s name. We spent hours taking black and white photos there, I just remember it was visually stunning. Huge old rusted chains with links the size of bog seats, smashed up offices and toilet stalls (a la Sutton Villa, Rain of Terror) and underneath the treacherous, spongy timber decking was the stinking salinous swirl of the Mersey- a heady concoction! There was something about that place, its abandoned history, its sadness, its reference to past times, its symmetry, its direct and metaphorical links with the sea. It got me in the loins, visceral and esoteric. Old abandoned places do that to me. I did a series of watercolours of this place in the late 80s, naive and Schiele-esque. I recently rediscovered them in a cupboard and put them on Instagram. They are good and capture that moment well. Judge for yourself
These old timbers form a central element which scaffolds the rest of this painting. Our Ste is a big fan of the Beatles (and I am too) so it wasn’t difficult to find inspiration from the work of Peter Blake in the Yellow Submarine, a landmark 1968 animation. The ribboned clouds stretch across the rainbow sky. A boiling sun, requisite with yellow, green and purple crystalline migraine rings and shafts of sharpened sunbeams splitting the horizon, sits behind the iconic Liver Building. To the left is the St John’s Precinct tower, which used to be a revolving restaurant but is now the home of Radio City (96.7FM). On the right are Liverpool’s world famous cathedrals.
The colourful Mersey is a happy accident. In my customary method of using the bottom of the painting to test colours and designs I started to use short, broad stripes of watercolour. I really dug the build up of these horizontal colours and when I stepped back from the painting I realised I was creating an abstract sea that reflected all the colours above it.
There are some lovely techniques and colour juxtapositions that combine very well in this painting. It represents a new direction in my work and therefore has special significance to me. I love to reference other works of real art in what I do and in between the timbered docks you might notice a series of Mark Rothko’s images emerging and receding from the shadows. I didn’t know that much about Rothko and thought it was just arty rubbish but when I went to see a collection at the Tate Liverpool in 1988 when it first opened I realised just how evocative his Seagram murals were. Truly genius and unique. All of these influences and experiences have come together for this piece and I’m sure Our Ste knows what a cracker he has.
If you look closely there are no hands on the clock. Liverpool is timeless...and at the moment I’m in love with Liverpool...see it for yourself and tell me what you think
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Professionally Printed On Bockingford Mould Made, Acid Free A3 190g/m2 Paper
Printed on A3 sized paper, the image is centered to leave an edge to help with mounting. Frame is not included. The print will be rolled and sent in a cardboard tube.