Words and Pictures, Patrick Kirk-Smith
I remember being at the Liverpool Artist Network meeting where this exhibition was first proposed, seemingly in an off-the-cuff attack of conscience from John Elcock. Since then, Jacksons has sadly lost Rose, and Liverpool has lost a long serving friend of the arts. The exhibition has become an accidental memorial, and a celebration of a shop she put her all into, with more conscience in it than John Elcock could have possibly anticipated when he first stood up in the crowded meeting to announce his spontaneous idea.
At first, I thought this was going to be a disaster; how on earth are you going to fit enough artists into their window to justify calling it an exhibition and not just a collage? But over the course of Liverpool Biennial 2016, the exhibition is rotating work by its six lead artists Gabrielle Caul, Erika Rushton, Patrick OʼRourke, Lisa Langan, Mike James, Tony Bishop, Josh Worrall and John Elcock.
The artists are all Liverpool based, and for some it’s not their only contribution to the Biennial Fringe, with Patrick O’Rourke exhibiting at Road Studios as part of their Fringe series too. The exhibition is changing roughly once a fortnight, and Patrick O’Rourke’s work was swapped for Lisa Langan’s today (13th August 2016). All the artists have their own stamp to put on it, but it was Patrick O’Rourke whose work had heads turning towards the closed shop as I wandered past last week.
What the exhibition does impeccably well, which I luckily caught a glimpse of on Sunday when I visited the closed shop, is to turn heads towards the building, so steeped in local history that it’s hard to believe anyone thought it was closed. The reality is, that most of its passing public are a little wobbly as they stumble out of Slaters’ of an evening, and the hundreds that pass during the day are speeding from one task to the next. And it’s difficult to get away from that mentality of never looking at something you walk past every day, especially something people are so used to missing.
While I was sat opposite, looking nefarious, with a half drunk Tropicana, devouring a chicken tikka sandwich, a group of students, a couple in their forties, and a young-ish looking family all had double takes. My take on that, is that something had changed, however tiny, and it threw them off. And throwing someone off that is so used to their Sunday routines, is special in itself.
So well done Patrick O’Rourke, you turned heads. And well done, John Elcock, you had a good idea. I can only imagine it has done Rose proud.