Monday, July 11, 2011

A few words reflecting upon Kensington, Liverpool and the health of its people

Which words, quotes, poetry or lyrics would you want to see illuminated on an exciting new public building on the principle route into our city?

Plans have been published for a new PCT Health Centre to be built on the corner of Holt Road and Edge Lane.

Naturally I am in favour of the plans, local Kensington residents have been receiving care in a temporary site on Jubilee Park, behind Kensington library, for far too long already. The plans and the proposals to actually get on with the building of the new centre have been delayed several times while CPOs needed to be acquired to demolish properties (and I dont want to get into the rights and wrongs of that, my views are well known on the subject). It will provide a huge array of health services and be a huge benefit for the community.

However, there is an element to the plans which I think may attract wider interest and comment for people who travel around the city, other than the people who actually live in Kensington, Fairfield or Edge Hill, and this is what I want to address here.

Liverpool planners and regeneration specialists have urged the PCT to think creatively when designing a building on this site, because it is on a main thoroughfare into the city, at a major junction, and should be as far as possible an interesting if not iconic building to give additional value to the development.

And I believe the PCT have embraced those wishes. Instead of designing something utilitarian and painting it battle-ship grey, they have looked for something much more visual and interesting.

You will have to click on the link to the plans above to see them, as they are PDFs and I dont have the facility to reproduce those on the blog. If I had a JPEG, or if I can get one, I will put it up for you. However, to summarise, the building is two storeys, clad in different colours and shades with different sizes of windows, set in landscaping and sympathetic to local resident neighbours and looks fine and modern. I dont think that will be at issue.

The interesting part (sorry you have had to read so far to get to this part) is the art work that they intend to decorate the building with.

They want to incorpate a metal furled "banner" (I cannot think of a better word just now) which curls around some of the front elevation and which will be seen from Edge Lane, and which will be lit up at night.

The current design proposals include several quotes and lyrics about Liverpool, some of which are in a smaller font and some much bigger.

It goes something like this.

"For this land is a place I LOVE" (lyrics from Ferry Cross the Mersey, obviously) with "LOVE" being in a much bigger font than the proceeding words, then at the end of the artwork it says "Pool of LIFE" (quote from philosopher Carl Jung about Liverpool) where the word "LIFE" is much bigger too. So that the two big words, which will be lit up at night, will be LOVE LIFE, the other words will be visible in the day but less so at night.

And in between in a smaller block, not to be lit up in the dark, but nontheless visible, it says "Here comes the sun and I say it's alright" (which you will recognise as a lyric from a George Harrison song).

So here is my thinking and my concerns... I like LOVE LIFE as a lit piece of art work on a public health building on a main road into our city.

I do like Carl Jung's quote and can see it is appropriate. I am less convinced by the inclusion of a bit of Gerry Marsden although maybe could go for it if I was really leaned on but in general I find the inclusion of Beatles/Harrison lyrics to be lazy and hackneyed (and News International would be bound to seize on it enthusiastically too!).

Surely Liverpool - and Kensington - are worth more than this idle regurgitation? In Kensington in particular we are bored to death by journalists from national newspapers and radio stations wanting to do endless comparisons between Liverpool's Kensington and London's Kensington. Just as we as a city are bored also with the lazy references to football, Aintree and the Beatles. We have so much more to offer than this.

Surely we can think of better quotes?

Or can we?

That is the challenge I am setting you. The PCT won't have commissioned and paid for the metal artwork feature yet, so I reckon that if we can come up with something a bit more imaginative, providing that across the piece it still highlights the words LOVE and LIFE, we could persuade them to think more creatively.

What would you like to see engraved or picked out on the art work on such an important featured building on the road into our city?

I am due to meet the PCT in a few weeks time to talk about the centre, the services that will be offered there, how residents will best access them, the tender process for the pharmacy services, the car parking, being good neighbours, all the things that you would in fact expect. And I want to go to them with a considered view about the art work and how residents in Liverpool would like to be reflected.

Over to you, start commenting!

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