Liverpool Biennial gets to work on Granby Resilience Garden
One of the most commonly raised challenges for artists and galleries is ‘What’s it got to do with me?’ Particularly vulnerable to that question are the dozens of festivals that happen in and around Liverpool, and none more so than Liverpool Biennial.
What does an international festival of contemporary, often conceptual, art have to do with me, sat at home in Bootle? For most the answer is probably, very little. But for Toxteth residents it’s the reverse. This year artist Mohamed Bourouissa is working with Kingsley Community School to build a new garden which will stay in place long beyond the end of the festival in October.
If you look back at the legacy of the many festivals around the city they are often overlooked, forgotten, dusty public installations. In my memory this is the first living space created in Liverpool as a work of art in its own right, and its one that is working with local people and local artists to do it.
Artist and gardener Andrea Ku, is leading Granby Gardening Club every Saturday as the head gardener on a project with implications far beyond its life as a garden. In the setting of Kingsley Community School, they are building a safe space to recover powered on by a notion that has inspired the lead artist, Mohamed Bourouissa, to create a kind of work that is entirely new to him.
‘Beautiful World, Where Are You?’ Liverpool Biennial’s 2018 title lends itself to limitless personal reflections, but until now I had seen it as a very global question, understanding our space in the world as a whole. What this garden does is pinpoint that space at the end of the question, asking what my own place is – where do I fit in this beautiful world?
Inspired by a patient of psychoanalyst Frantz Fanon, this garden looks at the story of that patient’s occupational therapy through gardening. A particular failure of occupational therapy in Algeria was in failing to understand, or even consider patients’ societal background. The patient here used gardening as occupational therapy, finding a space to organise his thoughts and restructure his mental space within the planning and preparation of the garden.
In 2018, Bourouissa wants to not just recreate this garden but learn the patient’s approach, to botany, architecture and therapy, and apply the lessons to his work with the community in Granby. Once finished the garden will be a space of resilience for those who need it. A true legacy of Liverpool Biennial 2018.
The real results of the project will not be seen for long after the Biennial is gone – in years to come if the garden is still in use, and if it has made a difference to people’s lives. If you’d like to be part of that, and would like to be involved in creating a space that could potentially have a positive impact on people who need it, you can join them on Saturday afternoons until the Biennial opens in July.
Liverpool Biennial launches 14th July 2018
Gardening Club Dates
Granby Resilience Garden
Saturdays 2 – 5pm
5 / 12 / 19 / 26 May
16 / 23 / 30 June
7 / 14 July