I want to introduce Lawrie Vause here, an artist who lives in Liverpool 8 and who I met on Ducie Street in Granby a few weeks ago when I took the photographs that you see here of his work “Playing With Fire.”

Lawrie’s now set off on a tour of nine English cities with his travelling exhibition, so this is by way of support for what he’s doing. The rest of these words of explanation and biography are Lawrie’s own from the press release for his tour.

“Playing With Fire” is piece by Lawrie Vause that asks the question:

“Are consecutive governments playing with fire by treating citizens with such disrespect? All citizens. It is a lottery who becomes homeless. It is the removal of a basic human right. In the distant past we all had a cave”

Lawrie was born in 1966 and his first six years were spent on a house boat on the Lancaster Canal. His next four years were spent living with his mother and older sister who had moved to London where his mother studied Direction at acting school. He has no memory of these years that he was told were happy and fulfilling, only of the problematic years that followed. 

Lawrie’s father David, who suffered from M.S. and alcoholism, had moved away from the house boat to a basement in Lancaster, and at the age of ten Lawrie went to live with him. But rather than remain with his father and his drunken friends Lawrie started to sleep rough. At that age he regarded it as an adventure and it became unexceptional as he was forced into rough sleeping and homelessness, on and off, for more than thirty years. Despite this lifestyle and his own increasing drinking he worked successfully in the construction and film industries.

By the age of 42 he was an alcoholic, ill, unable to work and living in a tent next to the Lancaster canal. Eventually he moved to Liverpool where the Whitechapel Centre found him a bed in a hostel in Toxteth L8, which led to a flat in the same area in 2010. He still lives there and it is the first stable accommodation he has had in his life.

It took a further six years for him to stop drinking and he is now thirty months dry. He wishes he had gone to art school and acknowledges that all that can be done is to start from where you are and move forward. 

In his own words: 

“When you wake up you just have to do something. So I do it, whatever it is. I just have to create something. If I don’t what else is there?”

Playing With Fire: The Tour

The intention is to take the piece around nine city centres in nine days. The tour began in Newcastle on 4th July 2019 and continues as below. Updates are being posted daily here on Lawrie’s Instagram.

  • Leeds, 5th July
  • Nottingham, 6th July
  • Cambridge, 7th July
  • London, 8th July
  • Bristol, 9th July
  • Birmingham, 10th July
  • Manchester, 11th July
  • Liverpool, 12th July

So check Lawrie’s Instagram to see how he’s doing, get in touch with him, and say hello if you can when he reaches your place?


Published by Ronnie Hughes

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place: http://asenseofplace.com.

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