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"The Day of the Dead": Adrian Henri

A quite unusual picture of Hope Street! Artist and poet Adrian Henri was at the centre of the thriving cultural scene in Liverpool 8, especially in the Hope Street area. He taught in the art college, and was often to be seen upstairs in O’Connors Pub at the corner of Pilgrim Street – now a costume hire shop but then on the circuit that took in the Everyman Bistro, the Philharmonic (pub), the Cracke and The Pilgrim. Henri performed his poetry along with the likes of The Scaffold (including Roger McGough, John Gorman and Mike McGear ) and as leader of the poetry-rock band Liverpool Scene.

In the painting, among the figures in the crowd are artists and writers William Burroughs, Alien Ginsberg, Frida Kahlo, Ed Kienholz and Henri’s Liverpool painter friend, Sam Walsh. In the main painting shown here the white suited, pipe-smoking figure on the far left is Malcolm Lowry. Lowry was the alcoholic author of the brilliant novel, Under the Volcano. He was brought up in Birkenhead and referred to Liverpool as that terrible city whose main street is an ocean. Apart from the opening chapter, the novel is all set on the Mexican Day of the Dead when the hopelessly drink-soaked Consul who is the subject of the book dies. There is a very good overview of Lowry himself in a Guardian article.

Henri also painted another imaginative piece, The Entry of Christ into Liverpool. This refers back to James Ensor’s 1889 painting, The Entry of Christ into Brussels. It is fascinating to see how we can put imaginative ‘maps’ or ‘representations’ over the everyday city we inhabit.

The Entry of Christ into Liverpool

Figures in the painting include the Beatles, John Gorman and Roger McGough (Scaffold), William Burroughs, Charlie Mingus (jazz musician), Arthur Dooley (the Liverpool sculptor), James Ensor as Christ on the donkey, and many of Henri’s friends.

 

“The Liverpool Scene”

From Henri’s poem, The Entry of Christ into Liverpool:

City morning, dandelion seeds      blowing from wasteground
smell of overgrown privethedges.   children’s voices
in the distance.    sounds from the river.
round the corner into Myrtle St.   Saturdaymorning shoppers
then
down the hill
THE SOUND OF TRUMPETS
cheering and shouting in the distance
children running
icecream vans
flags breaking out over buildings
black and red green and yellow
Union Jacks   Red Ensigns
LONG LIVE SOCIALISM
stretched out against the blue sky
over St George’s Hall
now the procession
THE MARCHING DRUMS

Obituary of Adrian Henri

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We recently featured a post about Robert Tressell, author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, who died in the old Liverpool Infirmary and was buried as a pauper. During this centenary year of his death Liverpool sees twelve months of activities around the theme of City of Radicals. In our group we have, over the past  year, looked at some of the major radical figures in Liverpool’s history and many of the historical events that will receive coverage in 2011. The City Council has published some details of what we can look forward to:

Organisations across the city will host a series of events to mark a century of cultural, social and political radicalism in Liverpool.

And the city council will be kicking-off the celebrations by marking the centenary of Robert Tressell’s death – one of the great socialist figures of the twentieth century, who inspired generations with his novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

Tressell, born Robert Noonan, died in Liverpool on 3 February 1911 when he and his daughter were en-route to Canada.  He was buried in a cemetery in Walton, which is today on the same site as Rice Lane City Farm.

Working with the Bluecoat, Liverpool City Council has commissioned prestigious artist David Jacques, shortlisted for this year’s Northern Art Prize, to produce artwork which will reflect Tressell’s importance.  David has received critical acclaim for his work around trade union and memorial banners and will draw on twentieth century posters, adverts and press cuttings which focus on industrial struggles.

As part of the anniversary, a banner showcasing the work will be erected on the side of a prominent terrace of listed buildings on Dale Street.  The banner will also help in protecting the external façade of the terrace as well as improving its appearance.

David said: “Tressell is often seen as a rite of passage if you’re in any way involved with politics of a Leftist slant.

“The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was significant for me because it addressed economics among other things and it did this in an accessible way, by weaving the subject into a story.  For the most part its analysis still stands up and it’s a useful point of reference given the economic crisis we’re living through now.”

Other plans to honour Tressell include a series of special events on the 3 February including a wreath laying at the Tressell plaque located at the former Liverpool Infirmary, a ceremony at his graveside and an evening at the Town Hall where the impact of Tressell will be debated.

Public readings of the book will take place in Dovecot, Walton, Sefton Park and Toxteth libraries, and in March, the John Moores University Roscoe Lecture Series will dedicate a session to the author.

Liverpool  city council’s cabinet member for culture and tourism, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:  “The significance of Tressell’s book cannot be underestimated and has been described as one of the greatest English novels which highlights class conflicts.

“As he’s buried in Liverpool it’s important the city marks his cultural contribution.  The planned series of events will be thought-provoking and bring this influential character to the attention of the next generation who will be able to get an insight into life 100 years ago.

“And the Tressell events just mark the beginning of an exciting year which will look at Liverpool’s century of radicalism, including workers’ uprisings and struggles.”

Visit the Council website for more. The City of Radicals theme runs alongside the Year of Social Justice which was referred to here.

 

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Paul Trevor came to Liverpool in 1975 as part of the ‘Survival Programmes’ project, which looked at inner city deprivation. The young snapper spent several months recording family life on the fringes of the city centre, concentrating in Granby and Everton. Among the terraced streets and high rise flats, Paul captured images of a community defiant and proud despite a backdrop of mass unemployment and poverty.

The  BBC website reports :

Photographers across Merseyside are being urged to “capture Liverpool” and take part in the city’s first international photography festival.

Look11 will feature exhibitions of work from around the world as well as talks, seminars and community workshops.

But organisers of the event are also running a competition, open to anyone interested in photography, that takes the city itself as the theme.

Hundreds of entries are expected and ten £500 prizes are on offer.

The BBC article reports that, “The festival’s broad theme will be photography as a call to action and is set against the backdrop of Liverpool’s Year of Social Justice.”

Visit the Look11 website here. It looks really exciting.

 

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With all that’s happening at Liverpool Football Cub – today was a High Court hearing against the owners – a good time to watch again this short training video. It is made of photographs taken on one match day and one non-match day. The sounds were recorded on an H2 ZOOM and vision was edited on iMovie, sound on Audacity (a great free downloadable sound studio).

While to many “Anfield” means the place of a football club, to many others it’s a place to live. We have a few members of the group looking to develop more on Anfield in its wider sense. This video uses simple techniques to suggest history such as putting the sound of an old fashioned projector on, and making it look like old film in places. The video also seems to be making some points by contrasting certain images.

The Dixon Scott reference at the start of the film is to the writer of a 1907 guide to Liverpool. We looked about a year ago at some of the things he said about Anfield.

Click on continue below to read the full item.

Anfield (1907)

Walton’s drab neighbours on the other

side, too, have also their sporting as-

sociations, and, in consequence, some

measure of independent fame. Each

Saturday afternoon throughout the

winter grey clouds of sound drift over

all this northern district and out into

the country beyond : rivalling for a time

the brazen rumours from the River which

are always visiting these airs. They

rise from the great football-grounds at

Everton and Anfield, where some tens

of thousands of enthusiasts, incredibly

packed together (any number of the

worst-paid of L ‘s understudies

among them), indulge, week after week,

a passion for vicarious athletics.

There is always something rather

heartsome about the sound of distant

cheering, and in this case one welcomes

these tumults with an especial enthusiasm.

It would probably be unjust to suggest

that they stand for the most positive

moment in the lives of the cheerers, but

it is certainly true that they provide the

most positive note in the whole of the

dull regions that surround them. To-

wards Stanley Park, indeed, in Anfield,

there is a momentary touch of something

that is almost sprightliness ; and over

in Everton, near the hill from which

De Quincey admired the view of distant

Liverpool, there is a flavour of dignified

decay. But, for the rest, there are only

labyrinthine miles of gardenless, spirit-

less streets, neither new nor old, neither

vicious nor respectable — always tragically

null and inchoate. They involve Kirk-

dale ; they trail out towards Cabbage

Hall ; they trudge past Newsham Park,

and so away towards the south. The main

ribs strike across them here and there,

distributing a little colour — paper-shops,

tobacconists’, sweet-shops, the rich phials

of a drug-store, butchers’ slabs covered

with intricate runes of red and yellow ;

but these respites are desperately re-

stricted. The gleam dies away as quickly

as the sound of the car-gongs ; the web

slinks back into its old monotony, into

that grey neutrality which seems, some-

how, to be far baser and more vitiating

than the brute positive blackness of the

slums. (more…)

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