Lockdown Treasures: The Baltic Triangle (Part 3)
Words & Images, Bryony Large
As we draw closer to the days where we can return to some sort of normality and us art lovers can wander aimlessly around an art gallery again, I continue to create some free, easily accessible and artistic walking trails for locals of the city to enjoy. When the days are getting longer and the sun seems to be sticking around more often, these sight-seeing trails of some magnificent outdoor artworks can act as a great addition to your usual day in lockdown!
It would be, without a doubt, an injustice to the arts and culture of Liverpool to miss out on creating a trail exploring the phenomenal, innovative space that is, the Baltic Triangle. Brimming at the seams, this Creative and Digital Quarter of the city is full of mindblowing murals, graffiti and street art by a vast array of talented artists from across the country.
You’ll find that while travelling to each stop, your eyes will encompass so much more artwork than what is included in this trail. I would still be writing this piece in a year’s time if I included every piece of street art in this vibrant spot of Liverpool! So, relish the stroll as your mind embarks on yet another fulfilling display of Merseyside’s neverending alfresco creations.
Stop 1: Italo by Liam Bononi
Our Baltic Triangle trail begins at the Wedding House on Great George Place where you will find a particularly large mural by the self-taught urban artist, Liam Bononi. Painted in 2020, this portrait of a friend is Bononi’s largest work of art to date, standing at an astonishing 50ft tall. It certainly takes your breath away, especially due to it’s photorealism and expressive elements such as the squinted eyes and strained hands.
The Brazillian artist wanted this portrait to represent a narrative of how people attempt to rebuild themselves to become better people, as well as to demonstrate the powerful symbolism and expressive nature behind human hands. The time and talent taken to create this painting, which was funded by the Liverpool Without Walls Culture Fund, is only admirable, and showcases a seamless amalgamation of modernism and history on this Grade II listed, Gothic building.
One of the greatest features of this stop is that if you walk around to the other side of the building, you’re in for another sublime masterpiece to feed your artistic appetite!
Liam Bononi can be found on Instagram through @liambononi. I also strongly recommend watching this YouTube video that shows how this piece was made! It can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohiKwnJGkc8
Stop 2: Stephen Hawking Tribute Mural by Akse
A touching tribute takes ownership of the next stop, which is located on the side of the Liverpool Life Science UTC building on Upper Parliament Street. French scientist and artist Akse was one of 74 artists from across the world to take part in Liverpool’s Contrast Mural Festival of 2018 which aims to attract attention to areas that are being regenerated.
This realistic and finely detailed portrait was painted a month after the genius that was Stephen Hawking passed away and was complemented with an inspiring quote that relates superbly to the figure of the late theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. Akse, who prefers not to use his real name, is famous for his hyperrealistic, freehand murals of pop culture icons such as David Bowie, Prince and Liam Gallagher. The majority of his street art can be found in Liverpool’s neighbouring city, Manchester, but he has left his memorable mark across the world!
More of this artist’s work can be found through his Twitter and Instagram: @akse_p19
Stop 3: All You Need is Love by Dave Bonzai
Just a quick walk around the corner from the second stop of the trail is Dave Bonzai’ ‘All You Need Is Love’ mural which can be found at 41 Greenland Street, on the side of The Studio. The dripping metal effect, that Bonzai likes to call his ‘liquid chrome’, might make it slightly challenging to read the popular Beatles song but the absolute talent of this graffiti artist can’t be denied.
Similar to Akse’s tribute mural of Stephen Hawking, this spectacular artwork was also a part of the Contrast Mural Festival in 2018. This annual event works with local businesses and organisations to source the funding, sponsorship and wall spaces to create a celebration of street art, uniting artists across the world. Since its inception in 2018, the festival has facilitated the creation of over 200 murals and fortunately enough for the city of Liverpool, there will be more to come! The next festival is set to take place on the 3rd and 4th October this year at Great George Place. More information on the Contrast Mural Festival can be found here: http://www.contrastmuralfest.com/
Dave Bonzai documents a lot of his work through his Instagram which is: @davebonzai
Stop 4: Bowland Hare by Marjan Wouda
Taking a little break from the murals and street art, Jordan Street offers a great sighting of this 3.6 metre steel hare by the Duch artist and sculptor, Marjan Wouda. It was produced through the use of a number of pre-cut curved Corten steel plates which develop a stable, rust-like appearance when exposed to the elements. These plates are welded together with spaces in between which I find makes it look like one big, three-dimensional, wooden jigsaw.
Marjan loves creating sculptures for outdoor spaces and Bowland Hare acts as a tribute to the species whose number has been dwindling since the 1960s due to decreased crop diversity. It stands proudly on the Baltic Plinth which is supported by the Baltic Creative, Castle Fine Arts and Steel Dynamics, emphasising the area as the inherently creative and innovative space that it is!
The artist of this piece can be found at: https://www.marjanwouda.com/
Stop 5: For All Liverpool’s Liver Birds (Wings) by Paul Curtis
The penultimate stop in this third trail of the Liverpool Lockdown Treasures series takes us to one of the most favoured and ‘Instagrammable’ pieces of street art in the city. Liverpool-born artist Paul Curtis was about to give up on his creative career before he decided to create this simple, but highly effective and interactive set of wings on Jamaica Street. The success and international popularity of his reference to the widely-known Liverpool symbol encouraged him to carry on producing art.
Painted in 2017, Curtis didn’t expect the attention that his wings got, with people queuing to take pictures just two days after its production. Even the likes of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, posed for a picture in front of them!
Merseyside Artist of the Year 2020, Paul Curtis, can be found through his website: https://www.paulcurtisartwork.com/ or his Instagram @paulcurtisartwork
Stop 6: The Baltic Green Urban Park
Something that I strongly believe is really worth drawing attention to in this trail is the Baltic Green Urban Park on Bridgewater Street. Representing avidly the powerful sense of community among the residents in the Baltic is this public, creative space formed by volunteers and artists across the area. The project is run by the Baltic Triangle director, Tristan Brady-Jacobs who has his very own charity dedicated to providing spaces for creatives in post-industrialised areas.
Local artists have united to make a public space that is both fun and useful, incorporating a flamboyant throne, a stage, a gazebo, some picnic benches and an inventive dragon sculpture which has all been made out of pallets and wood donated by local building sites. It makes for a great addition to the colourful and rejuvenating nature of the Baltic Triangle that we all know and love.
This cultural stepping stone is set to host events, fairs and markets as well as music festivals and creative workshops for local primary schools, with the most important decisions of how the park should be used left to the members of the community. So it is definitely an area to keep an eye out for!
More information on the Baltic Green Urban Park can be found through its Facebook page, under the name of @baltictrianglegreen. Tristan Bradi-Jacobs’ charity WARPLiverpool can also be found on Facebook: @warpliverpool
The Baltic Triangle never fails to inspire me or remind me of how grateful I am to live in such a vibrant, culturally-aware and creative city. In fact, this is why I most definitely couldn’t leave it out when creating trails of some of Liverpool’s most spectacular outdoor artworks! It bursts with exuberance, outstanding talent and an unapologetic sense of hope for the future; a staple of art and culture in Merseyside. If this trail of Liverpool Lockdown Treasures has left you craving some more brilliant works of art, there are two other trails you can explore to satisfy your creative appetite!