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Walk on, walk o-on…

We already know that Anfield is the field of dreams - well, for some. But now it and the Kop’s anthem have inspired a French artist to new heights. But you’ll need your best singing voice to find out what it‘s all about. Ahem, all together now

Published on November 30th 2006.

Walk on, walk o-on…

When Stevie Gerrard scored against PSV Eindhoven on home turf last week, there were just two people in the ecstatic Kop crowd standing still.

No, they weren’t a couple of unamused tulip bulb salesmen who had been flogged the wrong tickets by touts, but artist Frederic Pradeau and his pal Paul Sullivan. Oh, and their decibel counter.

For reasons that will become clear, they wanted to see how much of a racket an excited home end could make. And with the Reds’ captain being a homeboy, the pair couldn‘t have asked for more. The Kop rose to the occasion of the Steven Gerrard song with such vim that an ear-splitting level of 108dB was recorded. Sonofapitch!

“We weren’t far off the pain threshold,” Sullivan proudly smiles as he recalls the moment.

But it wasn’t the ode to Stevie G gripping Parisian artist Pradeau, rather the Kop anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone, which is the subject of his new installation at the Static gallery in Roscoe Lane, just off Chinatown.

The work itself is actually a conveyor belt that carries red bricks to a laser printer. There, they are stamped with the legend: You’ll Never Walk Alone before being carried off onwards and upwards on another belt. At this point, they are unceremoniously dropped in a pile on the ground.

For all this to happen, gallery viewers must “belt” out the famous lyrics into a microphone which activates the machine.

But don’t be fooled. We have discovered that a spot of sudden and violent flamenco dancing will also do the trick. And, as a bonus, the machine will print your trainers and T-shirts in the same way. Sorted, some might say.

Fred created the contraption in response to a visit to Liverpool and to L6. He remembers the impact made by the acres of run-down brick terraces surrounding the stadium he had always longed to visit.

In his words: “I tried to collect several constituents of Liverpool’s identity from my first impressions. It was like a stocktaking of my memory: docks, buildings, stadium, music, sound, exhibitions, and chaotic areas…....maybe I had to try to turn Liverpool between a dream and a nightmare.”

So, then. Does this all have some parallel with the city, its history and its people? They are labelled, elevated to dizzying heights “with hope in their hearts” and are then suddenly dumped. Although we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Something like that, says Sullivan, who runs Static, revealing that the belt going up is inspired by the one that runs across the Dock Road from the old Tate & Lyle sugar silo. The other Tate of the modern kind hasn’t given up its infatuation with bricks either, and is thought to be interested in buying the work.

You’ll have to get down to Static to see why the decibel recording was made. The artist wanted to make a circle on the floor there with the same amount of chalk as that which covers the Anfield pitch. But turns out that was too big, so these mathematical types divided the mass and mess of chalk by the figure of measured noise that the Kop made. All clever stuff.

Past work by the talented Pradeau has included making stills that produce pure alcohol from Coca-Cola, rugs made out of dust and the blindfolded construction of IKEA furniture. Catch him before he becomes big-big.

Says the blurb: “His oeuvre points towards the banality and frequent futility of contemporary everyday life.”

Right then Fred, say no more. A subscription to Happy! magazine is on its way.

*You’ll Never Walk Alone, Static Gallery, Roscoe Lane, Liverpool 1. Until Dec 23.

Angie Sammons
Pictures by Paul Sullivan

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