Cooperative Art Coach Tour
16th October 2010
A simple but excellent idea from the , so simple and excellent no one hardly tries it. A three
hour coach tour of art venues and artist studios giving the masses (fourteen
of us) a peek into the mysterious world of the artist, and the chance
to natter among ourselves. A good mix of the arty, the curious, the hard
to please, and a Spanish lad and his girl, up from London and just happening
The Cooperative are seven art groups in the Renshaw Street starting point
- fronted by Nathan Jones from
- who have a rolling show which changes weekly throughout the Biennial.
The eye catcher this time is a long sheet of giant white scribbled-on
wallpaper rising to the roof with maps stuck to the wall. The kind of
thing that creases gobs and raises eyebrows but I quite liked it. Something
about maps mapping more than geographical landscapes and maybe mapping
emotions too. Reminded me of a book which argued we are more connected
to people in history with similar emotional traits than to our own families.
I sent the author an e-mail saying he’s got my vote, and three days
later he phoned half way through my tea and the Lily
Savage Experience on the telly.
Meanwhile, boarding the mini bus we set off for , which is the old barber
shop in School Lane, if you know it. A tiny gallery where old LP covers
hid the faces on them with masks made from coiled and coloured plasticine.
A comment on celebrity, and from a quick take of group temperature, a
It’s the little things that make these things work so its heart
warming to see the driver has the old school chivalry to jump out at every
stop, open the door, and guide us to terra firma with the aid of a portable
footstool. Touches like that, you remember (Drat! No name or number on
the side of van to pass on recommendations). On the way to Arena Studios,
Nathan bungs on a mock commentary of passing artistic sights to keep us
on the boil.
Out comes the footstool and in we go to the highlight of the tour. No,
not the artworks but where they are made. The small, £100 a month,
Arena artist cubicles fascinating to nose around are a real treat because
they are so personal and therefore interesting. Not many have gone the
Francis Bacon whole hog and turned them into creative pigsties but some
are showing potential. In the cuppa downstairs talk turns to the Biennial
in general where the extreme minimalist showing in FACT clocking on for
a year gets mullered. A friendly bunch not top heavy with students or
the Wirral element includes an art historian, a philosophy student, a
delightful elderly couple who describe themselves as boyfriend and girlfriend
(“When we go to the Bluecoat we just write ‘Rubbish’
when we sign the book”), an amateur photographer, and some lively
impressionists from the Kirkby and Croxteth schools. That’s as well
as the lucky London lovers who chanced by. All choreographed with a light
touch by The Cooperative Boys.
Back on the road to the Studio’s and art space for Hierarchies
of Allegiance, the ‘Sunday words’ title of a three
man show. Jonathan Baldock gives a talk about his knitted figurative sculptures
(photo above) which to the untrained ear can sound a bit flaky, flying
in one and out the other. Full marks to the lad, though, and the directors,
for taking on the public (a bit quiet) in what can only be described as
a nil-nil draw. Pil and Galia Kollectiv’s video of robotic figures
marching around urban town centres to discordant but compelling music
I only caught five minutes of. I must go back, especially when I read
later that it takes in the IKEA riots of November 2005 as a starting point.
Remember them? What was that all about?!
Back at The Cooperative, Renshaw Street, it’s down the footstool
for the last time and hugs and kisses all round, not. A shakedown of what
we all thought would have been nice, even one of Nathan’s poems
he gave the last lot but nay, just our memories of a spiffing few hours
of another world. Artists, they’re real people y’know.