Stuff People Should See

The Fallout Factory, 97 Dale Street
6th – 21st December, 2013

Reviewed by jjSchaer

Earlier in December, the Fallout Factory on Dale Street played host to Stuff People Should See, an exhibition showcasing a mixed range of media from local and international artists: ‘featuring painters, printers, illustrators, sculptors, cabinetmakers, photographers and more…’ (from the pamphlet from the event). I popped down to see the exhibition and chat with the curator, Sean Tolmie, and some of the contributors.

I hadn’t been to the Fallout Factory before, tucked away towards the bottom of Dale Street, it is an intriguing building – an old-school city building, bordering on the historic with its ornate features and piping – now turned into a lefty art collective space. Walking in, I was immediately greeted with a number of pieces seemingly at odds with each other but working well sitting side by side. Sedate oil paintings of people in prone positions by Tracey Lou were placed opposite mad cartoonish designs by Les McCoy depicting women in champagne glasses and a portrait of Bettie Page that would have looked at home on a sailor’s arm. The pieces of furniture were the same; a hand crafter rocker and mirror by Allan Lake giving a rustic feel to modern designs sat next to contemporary designs by Tim Spencer produced in a more industrial fashion.

The exhibition stretched over two floors and contained a surprising number of pieces for a smaller art exhibition. They ranged from small framed pieces to wall murals and a couple of mixed-media installations. There were even a number of pieces by artists that had never previously exhibited, including a number of impressive, intricately inked illustrations by George Tolmie capturing scenes from the Sefton coastlines.

I have to say that the piece that stood out for me was a series of photographs entitled Turkish Riots 2013 by Lirya Lee. With a room devoted to the work, it showed a number of photos from a peaceful protest in Taxham Square in Istanbul which turned nasty when the police stormed in and started gassing the protestors. With resistance and women as the focus of her work, there were a number of startling pictures of a solitary woman in hippy garb facing off against a wall of police donned in riot gear. The series of photos capture a policeman storming over and ripping off his helmet to scream at the sedate looking woman.

I spoke with two of the artists, Laura Sullivan and Debrea Lewis, about their pieces. Laura had a number of abstract pieces placed throughout the gallery. Inspired by life, she said that her work focusses on “the banalities of life and the in-between spaces that pass us by. Drawing attention to the little things that we usually look over”. Debrea spoke about her two pieces and their socially inspired themes. 1 in 10 Lampedusan Paradox was a corridor decked with sand and mirrors placed along the walls as you passed through. Lampedusan is an island close to Libya and is a pathway for migrant travellers heading into Europe, via Italy, from the Middle East. The route is so treacherous that only one in ten people make the journey. Your footprints reflect theirs and the mirrors make you look at yourself as you pass. Downstairs was another piece, a hall covered in leaves and the walls covered in leaf print wallpaper made with a printing press. This was to commemorate the removal of all the plane trees on Hope Street to make way for a student planning project. The Victorian planted trees were felled despite local opposition.

When I spoke with Sean Tolmie about the exhibition he said he wanted its title to be a “Ronseal description” of what would be on show, “The exhibition includes stuff from people that rarely show their artworks. Some have never shown before. Thanks to Fallout Factory they get to show it. Part of the theme is no theme. It’s just stuff. I don’t use the word artist in the leaflet… Oh, once at the end”. The opening night was a party that attracted a diverse age range of people and a number that wouldn’t have usually ventured into an art exhibit – particularly in town at night time. It even had DJ Lee Brown on the decks on the opening night. “Blessed with the elixir of youth he came out of retirement from the late nineties club scene. Spinning it and licking the vinyl.”

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