‘Without These Walls’

A film and a ghost mural telling the story of Granton Road, North Liverpool.

“We kept hearing the word ‘units’ about us. When these were not ‘units’ – they were people’s homes!” Jayne Lawless – Granton Road artist and story teller.

The telling of the truth begins.

The telling of the truth begins.

In two linked posts about one day, Friday 8th April, I’m going to write about the future of the place that occupies most of my time now. North Liverpool. First the story of a film and its accompanying mural of a lost place, Granton Road L5, which was just opposite Liverpool FC’s ground.

Walking up from the North Docks.

Walking up from the North Docks.

I’ve spent the day so far being part of an amazing event down at Make Liverpool, working on the Beautiful Ideas I’ve been telling you about for a while now. On this day the ideas have gone public and all the invited guests are telling us how exciting North Liverpool is feeling to them. More on this in the post which will link to this one.

Now, as evening falls, I walk up Boundary Street and along Walton Breck Road to Homebaked.

Where the new film will be shown for the first time tonight.

Where the new film will be shown for the first time tonight.

Lighting up the models Janet has made. From photographs of the lost road, of Granton Road, taken by photographer and baker Jessica Doyle.

Jayne Lawless had long nurtured the idea of making a piece of art here and about here. Being commissioned originally by Arts Council England to create a mural on a gable end. However, as the gable ends began to be demolished, Jayne had to come up with another idea. Enlisting Janet Brandon to work with her on the film and ghost mural we’re going to see tonight.

Where Jayne grew up. With her mum and her dad and her two brothers.

Here are Janet’s models of where Jayne grew up. With her mum and her dad and her two brothers.

In a beautiful house they had bought, and in a friendly community they had never expected to see broken up during their lifetimes.

In my head I recite the names like a prayer. Granton, Salisbury, the St Domingos, the V Streets.

In my head I recite the names like a prayer. ‘Granton, Salisbury, the St Domingos, the V Streets.’

And that’s just this side of Walton Breck. The streets lost to the despised Housing Market Renewal initiative that cost us 30,000 homes across the cities of the North. The other side of Walton Breck, many more were lost to Premier League Football and the prevarication of decades from Liverpool FC.

The people start to arrive.

The people start to arrive.

The people of Granton Road.

The people of Granton Road.

When we introduce ourselves to each other they tell me what number they come from, who lives next door and who is opposite to them. Except of course their road isn’t there any more.

But they are, very much here.

But they are, very much here.

As is their Jayne. With young Eliza and Jayne's Auntie Alice.

As is their Jayne. With young Eliza and Jayne’s Auntie Alice.

Everyone is carefully guided to their friends and families as Homebaked fills up.

Everyone is carefully guided to their friends and families as Homebaked fills up.

Soon we are ready to start.

Soon we are ready to start.

And Janet, Janet Brandon the film maker, gets us going.

And Janet, Janet Brandon the film maker, gets us going.

Janet's family are all here too.

Janet’s family are all here too.

Listening carefully as she talks.

Listening carefully as she talks.

About Jayne, the subject and the care and time they took.

About Jayne, their aims and the care and time they took.

We are all deep into the story of the place now.

We are all deep into the story of the place now.

In the warm and homely bakery the people here have created for themselves. Their community business and binding place, where they welcome in everyone who wants to work with the people of the place on a future where they all matter.

The place Jayne most wanted to be the first to see the film.

The place Jayne most wanted to be the first to see the film.

'Watch now.'

‘Watch now.’

We watch and listen.

We watch and listen.

To the sights, the sounds and the poetry.

To the sights, the sounds and the poetry.

Of Granton Road.

Of Granton Road.

Of the going of Granton Road.

Of the going of Granton Road.

'Without these walls'

‘Without these walls’

And as the film fades to black and the music to silence…

There is silence and reflection.

There is silence and reflection.

Followed quickly by pride, love and determination.

Followed quickly by pride, love and determination.

I stand to the side carefully taking these pictures as something wonderful happens. Something wonderful that the film has caused.

Whilst anger might have been an understandable reaction to the story just told, what happens instead is something much deeper.

The quiet telling of everybody's truths begins.

The quiet telling of everybody’s truths begins.

There is sadness, true. And tears, some of them mine. But I’d call what happens here a lamentation. Something deeply spiritual and done with immense dignity. And while too early and too raw yet to call it a healing, I think we may come to look back on this night as when the healing begins.

We talk long and deep. Everyone adding their own layers to the fabric of the story.

We talk long and deep. Everyone adding their own layers to the fabric of the story.

Jimmy Lawless, Jayne's dad, listens carefully and gently.

Jimmy Lawless, Jayne’s dad, listens carefully and gently.

Gary O'Donnell, who composed the music for the film, tells us the story of the music box that inspired it.

Gary O’Donnell, who composed the music for the film, tells us the story of the music box that inspired it.

A story for Jayne herself to tell you one day.

A story for Jayne herself to tell you one day.

Then we walk in quiet procession in the rain.

Then we walk in quiet procession in the rain.

To the remaining gable end closest to where Granton Road used to be.

To the remaining gable end closest to where Granton Road used to be.

While we’ve talked, friend, writer and helper Grace Harrison – also down at the North Docks earlier – has moved all the projection equipment to here.

For the Ghost Mural.

For the Ghost Mural.

Glimmering quietly, the mural will always now be the film's silent companion.

Glimmering quietly, the mural will always now be the film’s silent companion.

As I said, Arts Council England originally commissioned Jayne to make a mural on a gable end, but accepted the change in Jayne’s plans as all the available gables began to be demolished.

The Ghost Mural and the football ground.

The Ghost Mural and the football ground.

Shine on.

Shine on…

You Granton Road.

You Granton Road.

And you Jayne Lawless. Still explaining, still questioning, still asking why?

And you too Jayne Lawless. Still explaining, still questioning, still asking why.

Menwhile, at Granton Road, nothing.

Meanwhile, at Granton Road, nothing.

Reflecting on all of this the day afterwards, what stays with me is the beautifully crafted film and the gently deep discussion it opened up. A lamentation, as I’ve said. But also and maybe the beginning of a healing. Not a forgetting, but a shared remembering and a treasuring. A mutual story telling that may gently and eventually lead towards a listened to, reconciled and acknowledged future round here. That what’s happened is wrong, but it’s done now. So what shall we all do next?

Jayne and Janet want this film to be widely seen. So do I. So get in touch through the blog if you’d like it to be shown and discussed with your community in your place. Let’s see what happens?

Thank you for asking me to take the photographs Jayne. It was a privilege.

More of Janet’s films here. And more from Jayne here.

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