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Review: Bingo and Burial: A Changing Landscape of Liverpool

Bingo and Burial: A Changing Landscape of Liverpool
The Atrium, Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Building, 95 Old Hall Street, Liverpool
A photographic exhibition by McCoy Wynne
Review by Gayna Rose Madder

All images ©McCoy Wynne

This remarkable exhibition, held in the beautiful, light and airy Atrium gallery space, compares two eras of architectural landscapes in Liverpool, separated by 25 – 30 years. The later photographs, taken this year, duplicate, as closely as possible, the same viewpoint and composition as the originals.  They are displayed in pairs with the earlier ones, taken between 1981 and 1986 on black and white film, partnered with recent images in colour made using digital technology.

The contrasts are in many cases quite shocking, not least at the scale of disappearance of industrial buildings. In some ways the temptation to ‘spot the (very obvious) differences’ almost detracts from appreciation of the quality of the photography. But perhaps that is the rôle excellent photographers must accept – the better they document what occurs, the more their images are presented from an objective standpoint, the less the viewer may realize how much skill they have invested.

The earlier photographs were exhibited at The Open Eye Gallery in 1987 under the title “Private Places, Public Spaces”. The artists, Stephen McCoy and Stephanie Wynne, say: “In the early 1980s many of the sign-posts of Atlantic trade that built Liverpool; grain silos, dockyard cranes, and warehousing; were being demolished, removed or relocated. What followed was open space, vegetation, trees housing and shopping complexes.” The titles of the photographs are based on 1980s locations and street names. In some cases the named streets no longer exist.

This subtle and stimulating show does not focus on the major or sudden architectural alterations, such as the recent high profile developments in the city centre. Instead, the images underline the constant and ongoing structural change taking place within the city and facing its urban residents.

Liverpool, long associated with the phoenix, has seen more than its share of redevelopment, whether due to economic highs and lows, war or industrial change. This thoughtful exhibition is about the passage of time and waves of change which have affected the environment of Liverpool residents. At the same time, somewhat reassuringly, some references in the pairs of photographs such as church steeples and landmark buildings remain visible, if semi obscured in the later ones.

The enduring impression is of a disappearing world. Many of the photographs spark the memory and remind the viewer of homes and workplaces which no longer exist; the surprise is how soon they have been forgotten.  This is a valuable and beautiful documentation of this city’s recent past.

Photographers Stephen McCoy and Stephanie Wynne formed the collaborative partnership McCoy Wynne in 1998. They have a successful commercial photographic business based in Merseyside specialising in the built environment and location portraiture, and an active fine art practice.

Their work has been published many times, separately, but more recently as McCoy Wynne.

Recent exhibitions include Liverpool Independents Biennial, Shot Up North 2007 to 2010, and New Collectives, Summer Exhibition 2010 and AOP Collectives 2011 at Leonard Street London

They were finalists in The Liverpool Art Prize 2009.

Exhibition venue: The Atrium, Liverpool Daily Post and Echo Building, 95 Old Hall Street, Liverpool
9th June until 23rd June. Open Monday to Friday 9 am until 6 pm and at weekends by arrangement.
If any members of the public wish to add any information about the locations photographed please email: