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Mersey ship containers become art

Ciara Leeming joins a ‘lo-fi, guerilla show’ - and gets the wallpaper paste out

Published on May 9th 2011.


Mersey ship containers become art

THE prints are printed, the flyers are done, the drinks are in and the show is – almost – in situ. Barring any last-minute crises, it’s now time to kick back and enjoy the ride.

 I’m part of an eight-strong group of artists exhibiting at the Look2011 international photography festival, which kicks off this Friday [May 13], and the past six months have been a blur of not only producing the work, but also conceiving and putting together the show.

 Early on, we ditched the idea of a using a traditional space – choosing, instead, to take our photography into the public realm and, potentially, a different audience.

 We chose to interpret our title, Transition, in several ways. Over the coming days, three 20ft by 8ft shipping containers will be transported to Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle and stacked in formation – creating our makeshift outdoor gallery or installation.

These hulking steel boxes have a somewhat complicated association with Liverpool. While today the city is one of the busiest container ports in the country, the rise of containerisation over the past five decades was the main factor behind the fall in employment on the docks.

Indeed, Liverpool itself is often branded by the marketeers as a city in transition – marching towards a shiny glass and steel future of art, leisure and shopping – a brave new world that not all are convinced by, or even want.

Kate Wise Transition - Maryport to Aspatria 9 Minutes.jpgA short walk away, on the fringe of the city centre, the Baltic Triangle is a far cry from all of that. A post-industrial area which, it is hoped, will in time become a hotbed of artists studios and creative enterprise, it too is in flux – but in a way which fits better with our low-fi, guerilla show concept.

Our huge prints will be fixed to the outsides of the shipping containers – where exposure to the elements will mean they are likely to change from day to day. In some ways it’s the anthithesis of an ordinary framed-prints-on-a-wall photo exhibition – hopefully becoming a spectacle in itself.

Our subject matter itself is diverse – ranging from fine art pieces exploring time and memory to street photography, urban renewal and meditations on the nature of photographic reality and issues such as domestic abuse and Dementia.

The first photography festival to be staged in Liverpool, Look2011 boasts shows by both established and emerging artists in venues across the city – all under the strapline ‘photography as a call to action’.

ciara leeming Transition.jpgPaul Trevor, Paul Seawright and John Davies are among the famous names taking part, along with work by Simon Norfolk, Adam Broomberg and Olivier Chanarin and the late Liverpool-born photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetheringon, who was recently killed while working in Misrata, Libya.

Transition sits very much on the undiscovered side of the fence, and is one of four collaborations brought together by Redeye, the photography network, and supported by the Arts Council England, under the umbrella title of Lightbox.

 Group members – who have been supported throughout this project by photographer AJ Wilkinson – include past and present photography students, fine artists and working photographers.

*Transition takes place on land between Jordan Street and New Bird Street, in the Baltic Triangle.  (Postcode L1 0BP; map http://bit.ly/gSlZdj). It  opens on Thursday (May 12), with the official launch from 6pm-9pm on Friday 13 May. All are welcome. Opening hours until 29 May are 12pm-6pm Monday-Friday and 11am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information see http://www.transition2011.co.uk/

Full details of what’s on during Look 2011 are available at http://www.look2011.co.uk/

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