Review: Press Room, Crosby Library
1-30 March 2019, 10.00-13.00 Monday-Saturday.

by Lorraine Bacchus

My local library, Crosby, is only a ten-minute walk from my flat, which is a bonus in itself but the more so since 1st March because it is the location for the latest work by 2014 Turner Prize nominated artist, Ciara Phillips.

Called Press Room, it is a participatory project using daily newspapers and online sources, to make a day-by-day record of press coverage leading up to 29th March, which is the date, in case you needed reminding, (currently!) set for Britain to exit the EU.

Ciara’s art practice often involves collaborating with people she doesn’t know and this project is definitely one of those – anyone over the age of 16 is invited to the library to take part.  So along I went this morning (4 March) to see how it was all going.  The room already looked like a scene from an archetypical news editors’ morning meeting – papers all over the desk, stories cut and pasted onto the wall, coffee on the go, a buzz of people talking about the headlines and even a few who seemed to know what they were doing.

Once we’d all gathered round the table, Ciara described the loose framework around the project, just a few ideas to bear in mind … that this is going to be a record and what does that mean, what will it signify in 20 years’ time, are there any themes running through the newspapers … and then we were set to work.

This involved choosing a paper, making a note of the main stories and then once the group had identified the themes, cutting out any that were relevant.  It made me smile that the scissors were safety ones for kids but if the tools were blunt-ended, the banter about the stories making the news was sharp enough.

Once the Press Room project is finished, the resulting pages will be printed and hardbound into a book that will form part of Crosby Library’s permanent Archive.  So although the people taking part in it might never see each other again, the record of their time together and what they made is something that goes on in perpetuity.

Photo credit Dave Hankin
Photo credit Dave Hankin

This is a work in progress that is making history, bearing witness to the countdown to that other bit of history in the making, otherwise known as Brexit.

The Archive will most definitely last longer than the Ottolenghi Mint & Pistachio Chocolate Fridge Cake, which Ciara made and shared with us all.  No wonder her community projects are always so successful.

You can see the daily progression of the project on the website Ciara has set up

www.press-room.co.uk