July 15, 2014

The Toxteth Jellyfish

I live on the edge of Toxteth, a borough of Liverpool. It is "best" known as the location of the riots in 1981 - you can see the Rialto (a landmark point in the unrest) from my front door.

It's more gentrified these days, particularly the town side of Upper Parliament Street, although it still suffered a little in the 2011 flare-up.

I pass through it pretty often, but generally only the through-routes and during the day. Having heard many scare stories over the years, it was with a little trepidation (though not enough to force me onto the main roads) that I ventured off on foot through the side streets as dusk descended.

It was much more animated than I expected. Not busy, but markedly more people out and about than I'd expect, given the time of day. Both walking somewhere, and pottering about in their front gardens or just sitting on the stoop. Very much Jane Jacobs' "eyes on the street".

I was a few minutes early as I neared my destination, and I wondered if those eyes would become suspicious if I ended up loitering, given it was outside an empty shop.

Turning the final corner, I saw there were three other people hanging around there already. As I approached I greeted them with what sounded like a secret service code phrase - "Are you here jellyfish spotting?". They were.

I'd assumed I'd be the only person out to see tonight's unveiling. I'm not quite sure why, this is Liverpool after all. By five-past ten, when the shutters had opened and we could see the luminescent jellyfish in their tanks, the group had swelled to about twenty - arty types; a few dog walkers; drivers pulled up to see what was happening; a couple of mothers, with their young kids, in their dressing gowns, obviously being allowed up late to come and see the show. I even ended up discussing laser-cutting techniques with an artist who'd actually sent us an email about it in the time since I'd left my flat!

The jelly fish are there for The Physical Possibility of Inspiring Imagination in the Mind of Somebody Living, a Biennial artwork by Walter Hugo and Zoniel.

I don't know if it will inspire imagination, but it was great to see so many people drawn into the depths of Toxteth so late in the evening.

Posted by Adrian at July 15, 2014 11:10 PM | TrackBack
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