Art project reveals Wirral stories in only FOUR WORDS
Some of Wirral’s contemporary folklore and social history can now be explored in a new community project which sees artists condense the stories of the borough into FOUR WORDS. Each of the FOUR WORDS can be browsed and discovered on a completely free new phone app. Exploring hidden narratives through research and conversations with locals, seven artists have visited three locations – Port Sunlight, New Ferry and Spital – each with rich unknown histories to share.
FOUR WORDS: WIRRAL was funded by Arts Council England and developed by artist Alan Dunn during lockdown as he began to explore in more detail the Spital neighbourhood on his doorstep whilst walking his dog Lulu. He discovered, for example, that Italian prisoners of war were once housed in scout huts on the edge of Dibbinsdale Nature Reserve woods in Spital, not far from where Harold Wilson lived. The paths through the woods were built by those prisoners of war, which is now a nature reserve and park filled with birdsong.
Dunn invited other artists to explore the stories in nearby locations, those artists being The Singh Twins, Malik Al Nasir, Steve & Phaedra Hardstaff and Joseph Cotgrave who each unearthed historical and contemporary stories from Spital, Port Sunlight and New Ferry, some light and some very serious. The thirty final stories – all distilled down to FOUR WORDS each – reveal connections with slavery and Africa, a community in transformation after a massive explosion, hidden viruses and the power of nature and wildlife during a pandemic. The project also unearthed other unexpected links to ‘A Clockwork Orange’, Batman, PLUTO and even the Beach Boys.
On the project website, www.fourwordswirral.com, when viewed on a mobile phone each story is transformed into a floating Augmented Reality animation that can be ‘projected’ onto any location, creating instantaneous tiny or gigantic artworks that can then be screengrabbed and shared globally on social media using #fourwordswirral.
While each of the stories relate to these three neighbourhoods in Wirral, they resonate with Merseyside. And the augmented reality aspect, designed by Field.Studios and Alan Dunn allows people to create artwork in their backyard, whether they are in Spital or Huyton.