For the last few years, I’ve been producing collages that explore the ruins of a dead civilisation – desolate, dilapidated buildings and machinery, littering a coastal landscape of overgrown plants, dead trees and hungry birds. It’s an imaginary world that reflects my own interests, anxieties, and aesthetic preferences; constructed out of a huge folder of carefully sorted and labelled found images.
During the first lockdown, when the sun was shining and the streets were empty, I would go for long walks around Liverpool. Re-engaging with areas of the city I had overlooked helped me to realise the extent to which growing up here had impacted my work – so many of the motifs being present on a sole stretch of the Dock Road (ships, ruins, classical architecture, crumbling factories, rusted-up junk, overgrown weeds…).
I also started to think about how many of the buildings and images that have shaped my conception of Liverpool’s character as a city no longer exist, and how much people older than me make the same complaint. Since its extensive bombing during the Second World War, Liverpool has been in a state of near-constant redevelopment. Many of us walk around town trying to map the past onto the present, trying to figure out where long-gone parks and buildings would have sat – it can be hard to keep track.
I want to pay tribute to this version of Liverpool – the one where our brains live, rather than our bodies. I will create a series of collages, depicting a city reconstructed from memory, engaging with the architectural and social history of Liverpool as well as its character. This project, Timeslip, will explore how we are shaped not only by our environments but by the ghosts which haunt them. The work produced from this material will be made into a newspaper-style publication, and also made available online, later this year.
I would like to invite local residents, or anyone with a connection to Liverpool, to contact me and share their memories of the city and its architecture. I’m keen to hear about buildings, still-standing or long-gone, that you have had a particular fondness for. What buildings are unlikely to feature in tourist guides, but define the city in your mind? Is there a piece of graffiti, a shop sign, a sculpture or a gravestone that always feels, inexplicably, like home?
Submissions so far have included the Escape on Paradise Street, the Bear Brand factory in Woolton, the sign at the bottom of Upper Parliament St that read “Norton for Crap” if viewed from the right angle, and many more. Local artist Nick Smith writes; “Nation where CREAM used to be hosted in Wolstenholme Sq. A really generic breezeblock building with curved corrugated paneling covering it but with pure magic inside. They used to have this water fountain in the bar next to the Courtyard which was painted in fluorescent yellows and pinks that was were smokers congregated. Remember that fondly”.