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One Giant step for Liverpool, but what next?

Larry Neild talks to Liverpool culture boss Claire McColgan as Sea Odyssey the book is launched

Written by . Published on October 17th 2012.


One Giant step for Liverpool, but what next?

JUST in time for the Christmas market, a book goes on sale this week capturing, in photographs, three unfortgetable days in April when three giant puppets – a man, a girl and a dog – paraded around the streets of Liverpool. 

Officially 800,000 came here to witness the Sea Odyssey spectacle, though I reckon is was well over 1m. 

Many visitors took their own photographs which have been included in the book, alongside pictures taken by professional snappers. 

The council’s cultural head, Claire McColgan, admitted pulling the event together was a tough assignment, though one she wouldn’t have missed for all the wine in France. 

The launch of the Sea Odyssey book at Liverpool Town HallThe launch of the Sea Odyssey book at Liverpool Town Hall

It was way back in 2006 when she met Royale de Luxe, the team who developed Sea Odyssey, the story about the Titanic, with Liverpool at its heart. 

"I heard the full story five years later, in May 2011, and it brought tears to my eyes. I am not ashamed to say this would not be the only time I cried over the next year. For me, one of the reasons that great art works is that it brings emotions to the surface that under normal, everyday circumstances, you can control," writes Ms McColgan in the book. 

“No other city embraces events like Sea Odyssey in the way Liverpool does. 

"In our eyes the giants were real and they touched every single person who felt a genuine connection to them.

What made the event even more special was that a decade earlier Liverpool could only have dreamed of putting on such a show. 

Michael FahyMichael Fahy

So how, we challenged Ms McC, Director of Culture Liverpool, do you follow that? An event so big it attracted worldwide attention, and seemingly still does. Every day thousands of people still Google for details of the Giant’s adventures as part of a tragi-drama centred on the Titanic.

 "All I’ll say is in Liverpool next year we’ll be re-opening our wonderful Central Library and there will be a lot going on," she volunteered before sealing her lips. 

Jude McloughlinJude Mcloughlin

While councils everywhere are dispatching libraries to the history e-books, there are hints that Liverpool Central Library is destined to be propelled to international stardom. 

Just a few weeks ago Liverpool Confidential was invited to a sneak preview which gave a hint of what is on the way. 

The old library was always the poorer relation, sandwiched between World Museum and the Walker Art Gallery, but civic pride will bring cultural equality to William Brown Street. 

But with civic leaders groaning about the forthcoming funding famine will there be any money to splash out on showpiece events? 

Book Cover For Giants SmllWendy Simon, the council’s cabinet member for culture, says Sea Odyssey and the Giants was a once in a lifetime experience, but other big-crowd pullers will find their way to Liverpool. "Our culture and our tourism industry are so important. It is all about striking the right balance," says Cllr Simon. 

Sea Odyssey cost several million pounds, but the contribution from the city council ran into several hundred thousands of pounds. There were no serious complaints or protests about spending money on the event, said Cllr Simon. For Claire McColgan the aftermath of Sea Odyssey was quite simple. The city would never be the same again.

*In the Footsteps of Giants, by Liverpool University Press. £9.99p

The book will be available at the various tourist attractions around Merseyside or ordered online at www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk

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Barry WilkinsonOctober 22nd 2012.

It was fantastic..too bad there isnt a full vid to view..hope the book does it justice...

Joan EastwoodJanuary 31st 2013.

I have tried unsuccessfully to purchase the book but told there was no more bei g printed. How disappointnting

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