A walk round the Fabric District with Jimi Hendrix
Not really, though he does feature here, and as soon as I saw the painting of him I had my headline for the blog post I was already beginning to write.
“The Fabric District” or “round the back of TJ’s And Abakhan” as I always thought of round here last time I meandered about doing a blog post of the place, getting on for five years ago now.
Like last time I’m with Sarah, who now as then is on her way into Abakhan. Unlike then though I’m not going into the shop because there are things going on around here for me to have a nose at now. Now that “round the back” has become the Fabric District”
All’s looking well then, and a promising looking Greek restaurant has opened just opposite. But it’s round the back I’ve come to see. A mixture of how it’s been for ages and this Fabric District thing it’s becoming, as you’ll see.
Now the art’s started I should tell you a bit of background to what’s going on here.
Early in 2017 I was loitering with interest at the City Council’s launch of what they call the “Ten Streets” down near the north docks when someone wandered over to me and asked me what I knew of the history of the area round the back of TJ’s. Someone had suggested to him that I might be a good source. I wasn’t, not really, but we got talking anyway and he told me he was one of a group of people who had plans for round there. So we arranged to meet another day and talk some more. A cup of tea down the road from TJ’s, then a walk round his dreams.
This was Jason Abbott and I liked him a lot. His quiet determination and his interest in talking about what might be right for round here. Which was why he was talking to me, and why I know he was talking to loads of other people too. His family owned three buildings here, all linked together and which used to be his Dad’s printworks. Had been for years while Jason was growing up. So he had history here and thought he could be part of making it great, with the right ideas.
Let’s walk on and look at some murals, some street art.
None of that was here early in 2017 but it is now. Part of the art of changing the place and of a Fabric District Arts Festival that’s recently happened. But it’s a place which still retains a lot of what it was anyway, and much of which I hope will remain.
Back to our story then and the building above, where Jason’s Dad’s printworks used to be.
In those 2017 days me and the artist Jayne Lawless were working together on our Coming Home idea about empty homes. And Jayne had the idea that she wanted to put a gallery show together generally about empty homes, what we were up to and, more to the point, celebrating the people who were actually doing the building and restoration works on the house we then had on site. And she wanted a place. Somewhere empty, that she could borrow, for a short while.
So I introduced her to Jason. And for a while in the September of that year, before the site works on it got fully going and courtesy of Jason, Jason’s Dad’s printworks were the first incarnation of Jayne’s Dead Pigeon Gallery.
During the preparation of which Jayne and Jason talked a lot about art while we’d sit in Cafe Nico up there. And now there’s a lot about art round here in this developing Fabric District isn’t there? Much of which I think is down to Jayne and her talk. She’s a maker of things happen.
As is Jason. So let’s walk on and see what’s happening.
Told you Jimi Hendrix was going to be involved in this walk somewhere.
I’ve no idea how much of this development is connected to Jason and the people who got things moving on this Fabric District renewal of here. I don’t even know if I like it all, and there’s one bit I’m not showing you that looks like the kind of ‘sold-off-plan’ inactive site that’s already littering up too much of our city.
But mostly the place is renewing as you can see. With wildflowers too.
Walk’s nearly done, and as you can see we’re round the back of Abakhan, or El Kilo as it used to be called.
Turning the next corner we’re in the reason this is all called the Fabric District now, the fabric shops and its history as a place where Liverpool’s Jewish community lived from the late 19th century. Many of them tailors and fabric workers.
And that’s it. Time to meet Sarah who’s finished in Abakhan and sit together on some steps to look through the pictures, these pictures of “Round the back of Abakhan.”