Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeFeaturesEditorial: Art in Liverpool, issue #40, May 2024

Editorial: Art in Liverpool, issue #40, May 2024

I was digging out the soil (that should really be “soil”…) beneath the gravel floor of our greenhouse last week, and found more CALL OPERATOR tags. We’ve been finding them wherever we’ve dug since we moved in. Every corner of the garden, down to about 2ft deep.

The house is maybe 100 years old, but the garden used to be the site of a public orchard (apparently), so it makes no sense that these tags are that deep. They look like staff badges, and were probably meant to be stitched to lapels or shirt pockets, but none of them have any signs of being used. There’s no cotton or nylon thread through the holes, no wire or fabric still vaguely attached or nearby.

All that remains is thousands of CALL OPERATOR tags, buried for some unfathomable reason in our back yard, below any reasonable depth that someone would have buried them while living here, but that also couldn’t logically predate the foundations of the house or garden.

The neighbours on both sides have never found anything similar either, so this is limited to our boundary, and both of them lived here before any local call centres opened up.It got weird this week though, because beneath the usual 2ft deep layer of CALL OPERATOR badges was a layer of broken glass, and I’m not kidding when I say it extended at least 6ft in one direction and 8ft in the other. The glass layer was, minimum, 5cm thick. So at some point, someone who lived in our house, or maybe owned it, thought it was sensible to dispose of literal tons of broken glass by just putting a garden on top of it.

The impact of that is that the garden now slopes off to the neighbours, and ours creates a false peak, just shy of the top of the hill. So what could drain doesn’t, and our garden floods against any logical flow of water.

That layer of glass is a hint that maybe there isn’t any rhyme or reason to why we keep finding CALL OPERATOR badges, but I don’t understand why they are so evenly dispersed across the garden. There are sections of gravel and sand, at least 1ft deep, and the natural soil is solid wet clay, but there are sections where someone has clearly cared enough to make gardening possible. But even there, the badges remain.

My point is (and I realise I took a long time to get here) that I won’t ever know the answer to this. In nearly all other circumstances I would need to know. But here, I accept it. It’s nonsense. It’s weird. It’s sometimes a bit offensive to know I’m standing where someone thought fly tipping in their own backyard was actually sensible.

I used to want to know who worked in the call centre, and where those badges came from. But now I doubt if anyone connected to our house ever worked there.

I won’t ever know the answer to this. I won’t ever understand it fully, but I won’t ever stop digging up my garden, because digging is incredibly cathartic.

I don’t expect this to be inspirational in any way, but it’s nice to think that one of you agrees it’s worth digging for information for no reason at all. And if I do find the answer somewhere in this soil, it wouldn’t actually make a difference to my life, or my understanding of the garden.

Sometimes, just being willing to keep discovering is as important as understanding what you’re discovering. Finding questions that don’t need answers. We’re thinking about next year’s Independents Biennial now, so there’s a lot of digging for the fun of it. Soon, there’ll be something to show.

Oh, and I got rid of the glass layer, so at least I’m not scared of what I’ll find.