Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wot no wall?

On Sunday, Wendy, Peter Morrison and I were on KVFM87.7 appealing for a suitable wall to host the Kensington and Fairfield mural. We really fancy the one on the corner of Kensington where the Old Post Office used to be, and Peter and I are going to call round and see if we can chat them up.
Another choice might be the wall on the corner of Lorne Street and Prescot Road. We have also had our eye on a wall on Boaler Street.
The money is there (thanks to the Culture Company), the painters are on standby, the community is working on the design, now we just need that wall.


Anonymous said...

I suppose this is something I would have to disagree on.
Can't say I would particularly like a wall mural on my street. In fact, I would be horrified. However well intended, they bring with them certain connotations which are not good - not just the Northern Irish political issue but the fact that it is more deprived areas that they signify.

Woolton, Gateacre and the like are not exactly clamouring out for them. Why aren't the 'leafy suburbs' being asked for a suitable wall? Why - because these murals say you are a particular type of area and you always will be. And we all know the answer a Mossley Hill would give so the question is never asked of them. Why should people be constantly reminded of these facts by providing them with badges of deprivation?

One can understand the mural at The Picket - it is exactly the right type of venue. The Lennon mural in Litherland is clever but not particularly attractive in my opinion. Like a lot of people I'd be gutted if it were my street. Belfast's murals have a tangible context to sit in - Liverpool's just don't.

What is often not widely noted is the opposition to the murals in Northern Ireland - from within the actual communities. Neil Jarman's excellent consideration of mural symbolism notes this and is well worth a read. Though a different context, the same reasons hold true here - fear and community ostracism.

I should guess that if a mural is painted in Kensington the majority will not be "over the moon" but merely relieved it is not on their own wall. That is if they haven't already objected.

Paint Brush in Hand said...

This is extreme social snobbery at its worst!

These walls when finished are high-art, whereas you are the kind of person who objects to art unless it is very expensive and carried out only by rich people.

We are in favour of our art, in our area, telling our story.

There is no place in our plans for a posh bloke with an attitude, go somewhere else (nicely)

Jimmy P said...

I suggest Anonymous visits the streets around the John Lennon mural in Litherland/Seaforth and speaks to the people who live there and see if they agree with his 'badge of deprivation' opinion.

I'm sure he'll find people who are very proud of the mural as I have found whenever i've visited. Local kids who tell you which bits they helped paint, who painted it and how long it took to paint, etc. If the wall wasn't appreciated by the locals then it wouldn't look as good today as it did the day it was finished, its a simple as that.

A Kensington mural, designed and painted by the community with a little help from the experts would be exactly what we need, Public art that everyone can enjoy, 'a community badge of pride'.

Good luck with the mural, and take no notice of cranks who don't even leave their name.

Louise Baldock said...

No other area is being asked if they would like a mural for the simple reason that we have driven this from our area. It was Wendy and I who approached the Liverpool Mural Project initially and said we want one here. We have campaigned for this for several years now and we are determined to get one.

I cannot imagine how a mural depicting the wonders of Kensington and Fairfield, its fascinating history, its pride, should make anyone suffer fear or community ostracism.

Wee Jimmy Crankie said...

Does leaving a forename and an initial make you less of a crank than somebody who doesn't bother to leave any name? It is sad that a reasoned and well expressed opinion is met with omediate hostility from fans of the idea and the person labelled a "snob"
I am not a fan of street murals no matter what quality. I think they are fine in a dockland or an approach road but in residential areas, they do suggest deprivation and poverty, that somebody somewhere has said, we need to get the kids involved. Gimmicks, in ther words. But nevertheless if a wall has been identified and the local people in the area want it or are in support of it,rather than just those involved in the project, let them get on with it, enjoy it, and hope that the design is something special and meaningful, because I have seen some absolutely awful ones.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't make this up! In responding to my points, trying to dispute them, both "Paint Brush" and "Jimmy P" (who both disagree with anonymity - go figure?), prove exactly what I was saying.

If there is to be a better example of how those who disagree will be treated then I suggest people look no further than these responses. It seems it will be for those who disagree to shut up and put up with it otherwise they will be considered not one of us (note: I have lived here all my life) and seen as not of us (note: I am as working class as you like so where the "posh" label comes from reveals more about you than me).

I would hope that in a democratic country when we should all have a say in our community then all opinions would be considered and thought out. The responses here prove to me otherwise. This is, in fact, inverse snobbery at its worst. How dare someone not revel in being badged as a poor area? How dare someone not be happy to daubed as such?

The idea seems to be that ostracism should arise because others are not willing to buy into your concept of what community-spirit is. Because someone does not subscribe to your idea of community representation, you want them to go away, will call them petty names and say ignore them. I am so pleased that this project has such thoughtful supporters. But I really hope you are not people who live in my street.

Sadly Louise, it is not the possibility of depicting Kensington & Fairfield's rich history that would cause ostracism and fear, it is the fact that those who believe there are other, better ways of interpreting that will be seen in the way your supporters here reveal. It seems that should this go ahead and anyone disagrees, they will be abused and seen as "not one of us" - some way to build community spirit that is.

Some of us will simply dream of a time when Kensington doesn't need its gimmicks and help from "experts" to improve it. That is, until we're driven away for refusing to conform and wallow in a caricature of what "Kensington life" should be like.

I suggest you all take a look at Willy Russell's "Terraces" (

Louise Baldock said...

I am fairly sure I know who anonymous is, and I know he works hard for our area, thanklessly in the main part. I dont want you all falling out with each other. If I am right in thinking who all the contributors to this post are, I know that you all know each other and like each other. There is no need for this. Why dont you get in touch with me properly and we can arrange a meeting with the LMP organiser and talk about what our plans are, and you can have your voices heard properly. For, or against. And help influence the design etc.

Steve Faragher said...

There are a certain number of people trying sometimes agaisnt the official flow to invigorate enthuse engage and in some instances entertain the community of Kensington and Fairfield and it is terribly easy to snipe from the side lines but not come up with anythign positive other than the notion that posh areas dont have murals, they also dont have 24 hour off licences, a plethora of kebab shops, sun bed salons, prositutes and alcoholics at bus stops. Great adverts for Kenny and we need to sort these things out too, hoepfully we will.

The mural subject matter is actually meant to give some indication of the area's long, proud and interesting history which I think is much more attractive than empty shops, publicly subsidised branches of Iceland, and a wasted £62.5 million. But hey what do I know, I only live and work here. It's really hard having a discussion when someone is wearing the mask of anonymity. If you mean it say and say who you are, be frank as well as earnest.

Noose at Ten said...

"you can have your voices heard properly. For, or against. And help influence the design etc."
I am sure you didn't mean it that way Louise, but your response reads a bit like we'll ensure he gets a fair trial before we hang him.

Louise Baldock said...

No I didn't mean anything like that. I meant what I said, come and say what you think, and hear what we think, and let's have a proper discussion about it. And for those who decide to support the project if it goes ahead, come and help with it.
Obviously if there were lots of people saying "We dont want a mural" then we would not do it.
Like KVFM, this is supposed to bring people together in celebration of our area.

So far it is only one person against, that I can see, if I am right in who I think it is posting here.

Anonymous said...

If the option of being anonymous is there then why question when someone uses that? There are often very valid reasons to retain that anonymity and the initial responses to my first posting signify why. I am grateful that Louise is both brave and tough enough to allow such responses and engage with them.

Just how cosseted does someone have to be to think that there is only one person against this project? Please, go and ask everyone with a gable end whether they support this and see just how much such claims can be substantiated. Please show us all those who support this project by offering up their wall? Come on, surely people are jumping at the chance? It's scandalous to suggest that there are not more objectors - to do so reveals you have learnt little about the Northern Irish issues.

I can't wait to see all of your houses painted before this happens. After all, surely it doesn't need a gable end? I propose those in favour lead the way. I will buy the paint - after all if it sis good enough for someone in Kensington then it is good enough for any of the supporters here.

And LMP would have more respect from me if they told us of how objectors in Ireland are dealt with. I'll tell you - they're no longer accepted. They're the proverbial lepers. As always in Northern Ireland it is often left to women to object, such is the fear of violence.

[At a different level, witness what has happened just on this blog to see how such ostracism occurs.]

LMP are good people with hearts in the right place. That I do not dispute. But their heads are somewhere else. I like their reasoning. I dislike their approach.

Louise is the only one on here who can claim to represent people in Kensington. She's a fine councillor with a keen ear to many community issues and groups but even she must admit she only reaches a proportion and that groups d not represent everyone. That's just politics. Thankfully she reaches more than most.

However, I would ask her to justify such a proposal with support. To claim the community is working on the design when I have neither been invited or informed of this design just shows how groups are often used as a front to a project. For "community" read "one or two people". No one I know in Kensington has been asked about this. No thought given to the individual. 11,000 people or so live here. Still claim there's only one objector? That'd be as stupid as me thinking I speak for everyone. Unlike some posting on here I am not that conceited.

Take an example. Think of the illegal and damaging kerb crawler signs put up on Sheil Rd. Promoted by one person alone. Proven to be the Police acting illegally. And not proven to help. The Police soon changed their 'the community supports us' stance once their illegality was pointed out. (Sadly they are breaking the law elsewhere I note) 'Brand Kensington' is dominated by individuals who refuse to engage everyone for fear of being challenged on their own insular view. I claim to represent no one but too many people claim to represent us all.

In Ireland, these murals are badges of deprivation as well as badges of hate and segregation. But fear says no one speaks out. They are not the innocent symbolism many would have us believe. They are not merely innocent outpourings of community pride. Wall murals perpetuate the divide. To claim you can change their context and provide them with a different setting is, I contest, delusional.

I'll reveal myself in time and I know it will be to my detriment. But it is quite clear that to do so now would attract just the reaction one sees here. Even the reasonable folk are overcome with unreasonable thinking.

Anonymous said...

"Why dont you get in touch with me properly and we can arrange a meeting with the LMP organiser and talk about what our plans are, and you can have your voices heard properly. For, or against. And help influence the design etc."

The subtext being that even if you disagree we will still be going ahead. Not a a good starting point.

Anonymous said...

As someone who makes a living from community engagement, your intolerance of different views is breathtaking. Tell us - did you ensure all callers to your radio station were who they said they were? I'd be interested in the stats.

As it was public money being spent, I'm sure all this can be demonstrated very easily. Let's be honest. What you know because you only live and work here is because public funds have allowed you to do so.

What an utterly illiberal and distinctly anti-community response. It is so because you know better. And you know that. I didn't realise Kensington Vision had that little vision.

Louise Baldock said...

Okay, here is the thing, without a wall, all of this is just noise. Now that we have KVFM out of the way, Peter and I are going to concentrate on finding one. If we dont find one, then Anon will have been proved right and will be happy that no such mural goes ahead.

If we do find one, then we shall call a public meeting, of interested people - whatever their views - and invite them to discuss whether they would like a mural or not and what might feature on such if they do want one. And we will show them our very early thoughts so far on what would be depicted.

We were thinking of basing it on the 10 things you didn't know about Kensington and Fairfield postcard from a few years back. So a symbol of the Silver Blades, Wild Bill Cody, the city's first cinema, meccano, Queen Victoria, the zoo, the Beatles recording studio etc.

But there is nothing set in stone, just as there is currently no wall. Naturally we want the support of the community otherwise it will be defaced very quickly.

So naturally if we sense people in Kensington or Fairfield don't want a mural, then we wont waste our time and your money on something unpopular. We wanted to create something that made people proud, that drew visitors to our area, that showed we had good things to say.

Certainly it was never my intention to start a row! The LibDems will be loving this

Anonymous said...

An eminently sensible approach but worth extending so as to ask people without them having to turn up too (i.e. via post) as some may be uncomfortable to do so.

Re your last comment - is takes strength to debate such issues. Something the Lib Dem shower who used to be councillors here were never able to show. It is why they are gone and you are here.

Peter Morrison, Liverpool Mural Project said...

In response to Anonymous

"Why aren’t Woolton, Gateacre and the like clamouring out for murals?'

One reason is that people in such areas have many other ways and means of getting their ideas across and affirming their identity and so don’t have to turn to murals.

That murals are often in the most deprived parts of cities is not least because one of the main things people there are deprived of is power. Murals are a way of taking control of getting your message across when every other medium is controlled by someone else.

Anonymous is too fixated on the murals of Northern Ireland. There are 3500 murals in Philadelphia, 1000 in Los Angeles, over 800 in the San Francisco area, as well as in Cape Town, Melbourne, Hamburg, Santiago, etc., etc. Some of these are about conflict, but most are about other things – human rights, community pride, ethnic identity, popular history, anti-drugs and so on.

Anonymous is wrong about Neil Jarman’s position.

Neil Jarman notes the opposition of many residents in Northern Ireland to one type of mural, not murals in general – namely, the same type of militaristic mural which nobody has ever suggested for Kensington or anywhere in Liverpool.

Neil Jarman would be the first to acknowledge how intensely proud many communities in Belfast and around the world are of their murals.

steve nonanonymous faragher said...

There you were I thought you were doing a mural of the three labour councillors carrying armalite rifles in one hand and the severed and bleeding heads of of the three ex lib dem councillors in the other.

Ww didnt have a phone-in on KVFM as it would attract anonymous cranks, who might be in favour of the softy mural. I think anonymouse is missng the point of the Irish involvement, the artists contain both catholic and protestants and actually was used as a way of unifying the two divided communities.
Cant wait for the revelation as to anonymoses true indentity.

Wee Jimmy said...

Have you any idea how patronising that sounds?

"That murals are often in the most deprived parts of cities is not least because one of the main things people there are deprived of is power. Murals are a way of taking control of getting your message across when every other medium is controlled by someone else."

Ok, you have to sell the organisation but do so from a position that people may enjoy it or get involved and that it may even look nice. Don't please try and say that this is about people taking control. that kind of psycho babble is insulting to people who are living in a deprived area and feeling powerless. What ways and means are the people of woolton and gateacre getting their message across- what message? what are you talking about? Unfortunately it's all too common in organisations that have to put a spin on something to try and convince everyone of their importance and worthiness. keeps them in a job I suppose or off the streets. Fine if it's to get some primary school kids to do a painting to send to Blue Peter but don't try and pretend it is of any greater significance. When you come out with stuff like that, it says to me that this is more about justifying the Liverpool Murals Project rather than the people of Kensington. No doubt that's what it says in the Murals textbook. i was indifferent. You have put me off. What's the outcome and the control once the mural is finished other than stand and look at it for a bit? Or get upset when the first poster is stuck on or LFC / EFC in huge letters - or worse.
And that's the other thing that put me off. While looking to see if they could ever be good and going on google images I viewed murals around the world. Many are excellent as works of art - well not the community ones, which sadly are all too often amateurish but that's just my view ( badly drwan cartoon like faces) the most disturbing thing is seeing what were spectacular murals covered in ugly graffiti. The Los Angeles olympic ones have been almost obliterated and the city has just painted over some. in other words -they became an addition to dereliction. That's what I don;t like and i don;t like people pretending that this is goving a voice or getting a message out from the community, You know it's nothing of the kind.

Old Dick Kensington's Oldest Living trans gender fire eater said...

God anyone would think Kenny Regen were doing the mural, a fifty foot image of Richie Keenan and Norma Williams arm in arm,towering over the area urrrrrrgh, Im moving to Green Lane.

Jimmy Price said...

Anonymous, I had you down as just a miserable crank after reading your first rant about the idea of a Kensington mural. The kind of person who objects to anything creative or positive anywhere and has nothing better to do with their time.

The more I read you getting all bent out of shape over a painting, designed and involving the local community, with the help of some of the world’s best muralists, the more you prove me right.

The energy you’ve put into complaining about a mural that is only at the planning stage is remarkable, but also very sad and depressing to read.

I suggest again that you go and ask the people of Litherland/Seaforth if the mural done there has brought all this misery you go on about, ask the people who live in the surrounding streets or indeed the people who live at the gable property if they consider the mural to be a ‘badge of deprivation’ or in your opinion unattractive.

I already know the answer because I know people who live around there and they will tell you its now a real positive landmark, so if the Culture Company want to fund one for Kensington then great, lets get painting and when the finished mural is the envy of all the other parts of the city, you can go and find something else to complain about.

How about you tell Louise what the cost of the mural would be better spent on, instead of just objecting to the idea.

I suspect there is more to your anger and bitterness towards a community mural depicting the history and pride of the area than your letting on, and probably the real reason you chose not to leave your name.

steve faragher said...

Yeah but has anyone got a wall like?