Walking down into town for the weekly Aldi shop, you wouldn’t notice them. You wouldn’t notice unless you really took notice. And when you take that notice, you really take notice. And you realise that half of the time, you don’t notice the world half as much as you should.
Seeing ‘Collateral’, a series of photographs by Formby artist Tom Fairclough in Lewis’s windows amongst all the building debris and ‘warning’ signs, it almost adds to the fascination of the work, draws you into the photographs, makes you read what is underneath. Possibly it’s the layer of dust on the windows or the posters which half cover them that stops people from noticing them, but somehow seeing them made me realise that very often art can appear in the most unusual and unexpected places, in the nooks and crannies we often overlook.
They say that Liverpool is a city of art. What we often don’t realise is that this ‘art’ isn’t just that of the big art galleries. Often unexpected art can provoke much more of a reaction than the art of the big city galleries. That’s what those photographs did for me.
‘Collateral’ is a photography installation piece by Tom Fairclough, a Merseyside artist from the Sefton coast, which was displayed from 29th April to 29th June 2011 to mark the 70th anniversary of the May blitz, also being published as a book in 2010. Taking memories of Liverpudlians throughout the Second World War, the artist has thought-provokingly paired these with black and white photographs taken of the Sefton Coast sea defences.
Made from the rubble resulting from the bombing of Bootle and Liverpool from 1940-41 this ‘debris’; parts of homes, workplaces and public buildings, was placed there in 1942 and remains there today, an art piece in itself and indeed a poignant and graphic depiction of just how much destruction took place across the city. The desolation of the beach and destruction of the building debris is a very clever metaphor which links in well with the feelings no doubt of the masses who must have felt like the crumbling buildings, slowly degraded by the destruction of war. The photographs in themselves are extremely moving and stunningly beautiful.
The photographs and their reflective and strangely appropriate setting really drew me in, and I left feeling somehow inspired. Some say that in museums, actually seeing the physical evidence of war can really affect you, and with this I couldn’t agree more. Somehow though, seeing these photographs is just as harrowing, as if you are listening to a voice which could be that of the city itself telling the stories of what it saw. ‘If only walls could talk’. Well it seems that through this piece, Liverpool has finally gained its voice, and it has a chance to get it heard.
From simple lines such as “You prayed for the rain. If it rained you had a good night. If it was a fine night you looked out and said, oh dear”, to the most emotive experiences “…she was screaming ‘Get me mum out, get me mum out. The baby doesn’t know what life is.’ They got her mum out but the baby was dead” the whole piece truly is heart-wrenching. So I encourage everyone to take ten minutes out of their day to notice the art that is around us, although it might be unexpected. As for this piece, the artist has, in my opinion, achieved something spectacular.
For more information about the piece see:
Further links and information on the sources used in the piece are available on these sites.