David Jacques: ‘The Irlam House Bequest’ at The Walker

Photos by Minako Jackson

David Jacques: The Irlam House Bequest
at The Walker Art Gallery

2 February 2011 – 3 April 2011

It’s great when things just fall into place. You may recall that as well as a cash prize for the 2010 Liverpool Art Prize the winner was given the opportunity to show at the Walker at a later date.

Well the winner was David Jacques and this is his show and it as this is Liverpool: City of Radicals 2011 this fits perfectly with the theme and coincides with the unveiling of his banner on 87-95 Dale Street, just around the corner from here, commemorating Robert Tressell.

So, we are delighted to see our Art Prize winner, who was also short-listed for the Northern Art Prize, now in the Walker and it’s a beautiful and interesting show. I love the fictional back-story, the hand drawn lettering and wreaths all based on the traditional trade union banners and artists such as Walter Crane (who was also born in Liverpool).

The Irlam House Bequest is a fictional subversive banner workshop “discovered” in an abandoned flat in Irlam House, a tower block in Bootle. Winner of the Liverpool Art Prize 2010 and nominated for this year’s Northern Art Prize, David Jacques’ installation is inspired by the history of trade union banners and the entrepreneur George Tutil, whose workshop dominated banner production in the nineteenth century.

Tutill’s success lay in combining easily interchangeable templates of mottos, portraits and decorative elements to produce unique banners. He operated a slick production line which resulted in his monopolising this niche industry. Commissions came from a broad and conflicting range of groups including Orange Lodges, trade unions and temperance societies.

The installation includes an accompanying text written by a fictional curator in the process of making an inventory of the works. These ‘notes’ record an interview with the tower block’s caretaker about the discovery of the drawings and the mysterious anti-establishment artistic collective who produced them.

Part of  ‘City of Radicals’ a city wide programme of events commemorating the 1911 General Transport Strike in Liverpool.