Alan Dunn
Leece Street (10th-23rd October 2007)

Reviewed by David Jacques

“Being a parent is great, but it’s the hardest job you’ll get in life – and no-one can train or teach you how to do it”.
- Joey Talbot. Builder, drugs worker and parent.

One of the interesting things about placing art in public spaces is that the work can be left to develop a life of its own…

Alan Dunn had four billboard pieces sited on Leece Street between the 10th and 23rd of October. A some-time curator, collaborator or ‘sole trader’ in this field, Dunn has amassed a significant number of billboard projects over the years and Liverpool can count itself fortunate to have hosted the lion’s share.

The recent series contained images contributed from half a dozen artists dotted around the globe (all email correspondences), as well as himself and some children and adults touched by the adoption process.

The emailing bit is integral. There’s an economic and immediate approach to generating imagery and text here. Camera phone shots, scanned and photoshopped appropriations sit with ‘beer mat’ musings and the kids’ manic scribbles. The whole assemblage seemed to have piled up layer upon layer and then undergone a process of tearing-away or stripping-back. Much in the way the French ‘New Realists’ worked-out on bill posted advertisements in 1960s Paris.

In essence, these were anxious works. They concerned the graft that goes into the job of parenting and more specifically the difficulties confronted when during that journey there’s the potential for a breakdown, or the intervention of a third party. Despite this we’re offered the odd respite, a breathing space dispersed here and there. Dunn’s long-standing penchant for using footballing analogies and anecdotes in particular provided a point of discourse and escape from the on-going delirium.

… the four billboards of ‘dadoption’ played to a potential audience of somewhere around 250,000 during the middle two weeks of October. Something’s bound to happen. Dunn has intimated that there’s every chance one or all of the billboards will undergo a bit of surreptitious wear and tear, he’s almost inviting it on. He’d be happy to see pasted on or graffitied additions too and his email and website addresses are included if anyone is moved to a response, or go over his archive of projects which have proven to be an invaluable contribution to the cultural life of the city.

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