David Jacques - photo by McCoy WynneLiverpool Art Prize 2010

Metal, Edge Hill Station
4th June - 10th July 2010

Reviewed by Gayna Rose Madder
Photograph by McCoy Wynne

The Liverpool Art Prize has now entered its third year; the artists' work is currently on show in Metal at Edge Hill Station. This prestigious competition was set up during Liverpool's reign of Capital of Culture in 2008. But unlike many other projects starting at that time, this one provides a lasting legacy which will continue to honour Liverpool's outstanding artistic achievements, as well as its cutting-edge approach to artistic innovation.

This year, the work seems more dark, brooding and even claustrophobic, perhaps reflecting the industrial links with its setting within a working railway station. It has quite a different atmosphere from that of previous years.

As before it has attracted artists of international repute, at very different stages in their careers. They include:

Gina Czarnecki is a British artist whose work crosses multiple genres and platforms. She is currently artist in residence at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Developed in collaboration with biotechnologists, computer programmers, dancers and sound artists, Czarnecki’s films and installations are informed by human relationships to image, disease, evolution, medical research, and by advanced technologies of image production. Through editing sound and image at a micro–level, processes, the artist constructs vivid, highly aesthetic spaces. Her work engages the viewer through its scale, beauty and occasionally through interactive technologies.

The video installation featured at METAL's Accumulator Tower comprises strange and disturbing, ethereal images of human bodies in eternal motion, forming patterns which float like smoke across a black screen.

Outside the Tower the monitor displays information on the two works in progress: ‘Quarantine’, a community space that is different, calming and interesting (a tropical medicinal garden for the new Garston hospital); and the large-scale multi-dimensional project ‘Wasted’, a body of inter-related sculptural artworks exploring the life-giving potential of ‘discarded’ body parts and their relationship to myths, history, cutting edge stem cell research and notions of what constitutes informed consent.

There is a duality about the work which is both disturbing and reassuring. There are no conclusions.

David Jacques (photo above) works in a variety of media including painting, film and text, producing studio based work as well as public collaborative projects. Engaging with narrative interpretations of the subject of history, between fact and fiction, he explores forgotten, marginalised and socially/ politically disruptive occurrences.

The artist was born in Liverpool and here displays a series of stereoscopic views taken at two locations in Liverpool; the North Canada dock and the former Kirkby Industrial Estate (including factories such as English Electric). They function as a ‘concocted archive’, ordered and arranged here into two groups; the dockland is shown on the left, and the industrial estate on the right. The depicted scenes are a substitute to the exotic views that would have originally populated the collection, (titles of originals are still evidenced on the mounts).

A stereoscopic viewer positioned within the installation is available to take in the 3D-like effects offered up by this once popular parlour-room activity, and headphones feature a fictional ex-worker who habitually returns to the sites of his previous employment to take these photographs.

The images portray a lost world which has been replaced by something disturbingly 'other'. The stereoscopic view means that no image ever 'rests' for long enough to subsist in the present on any level.

James Quin is based in the studios at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Chambers. The paintings and drawings shown here have been created in response to the Edge Hill station buildings occupied by Metal. They attempt to bring together narratives and histories, apocryphal and real, attached to the building: where past and present intersect.

A lecturer at Leeds College of Art and Design, the artist has said of his work: "Amongst many possible points of departure, I investigate the waiting room as an interzone, a place of ‘in between’, of eternal waiting. Workmen descend into the Williamson tunnels beneath Edge Hill and First World War soldiers haunt the station. Figures manipulate model railways that travel nowhere except in the imagination of their controllers."

The dark, almost monochromatic paintings feel like a glimpse into a romanticised past forced into being and substance in the present, like false memory. Beautifully executed, there is a lasting impact.

Paul Rooney is a Liverpool-born artist who primarily works with text, sound and video, often focusing on the presence of the historical past within the ‘voices’ of real and fictional individuals, using short stories, songs, audio guides and lectures, which the artist has said "often deal in particular with the difficulty of attempting to render historical memory in language or art. The works have as their basis the unstable nature of individual subjectivity and identity in relation to place and history."

The film showing here, 'La Décision Doypack', was inspired by a website memoir by an Australian packaging company manager, in Paris during the events of May 1968, coinciding with the general strike and the revolt of the student population against France’s conservative moral ideal, seeking a more liberal and equal society.

Lasting twenty-seven minutes, the film, featuring enactments by nine student actors, is disturbing in creating a sense of displacement between 'then and now', and juxtaposing a present form of modernism on another from the past.

Emily Speed is based at The Royal Standard studios in Liverpool. Her work is an ongoing exploration into the relationships between architecture and human anatomy: the body as a building that houses the mind. Drawn to the more uninhabited spaces of buildings; corners, recesses, passageways, stairways, entrances and exits, Speed constructs models of sorts; an immaterial architecture that plots out her personal space. Her drawings, sculptures, installations and book works draw upon the metaphorical potential of architecture, considered both an emblem of humankind’s ambition for permanence and a container for components of personal memory and identity.

For Emily the inspiration for the towering sculpture that occupies this space is a short story by Kafka, ‘The Burrow’. A mole-like being burrows an elaborate system of tunnels but becomes obsessed by the thought of something invading them, so ends up spending his night and day guarding the entrance. The tale is of the rationality of human action against reason and how in the struggle to protect or hold onto things we can end up losing them.

The tower is quite overwhelming, gathering a sense of fear and protection simultaneously, but again also summoning a feeling of the past, and of drawing together all that prevents humankind from pursuing joy.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed