Tag Archives: art

The Story of Coming Home: So far

For some time now I’ve been thinking of writing something on here about Coming Home. For many reasons, some of which I’ll explain, the time’s never seemed quite right. But stories need telling, otherwise how do they become stories? So here goes, the Story of Coming Home:

Chapter 1

Photograph by Jane MacNeil

Whatever kind of maker you are, a maker of things, tools, songs, stories, poems or paintings, the most difficult thing to do is to get going. So many of us are full of the big even beautiful ideas, aren’t we? But how many of them ever amount to something you can show or use or put in a story, let alone live in?

I’ve been thinking about this, this getting going, as some friends and I from The Beautiful Ideas Co have been talking about what Coming Home does next. And as I’ve also been reading a novel by Colm Toíbín called ‘The South.’ I love Colm Toíbín’s writing. He’s a near contemporary and I often find valuable thoughts about life and the living of it from reading his books.

In ‘The South’ I’ve found a particularly relevant gem. It’s in his afterword, where he writes about how hard he’d had to search for the answer to how to get this, his first novel, going.

Being a story he’d wanted to move around Ireland and Catalonia, abstractedly painting their emotional and historical landscapes he talked to an Irish artist, Barrie Cooke, about how he did beginnings:

“You make a mark” he said, as he gestured the making of an almost random mark with an imaginary paint-brush.

Well at Coming Home we’ve definitely made a mark. Continue reading

Granby Office of Useful Art

DSC05864First there is a sparkly little notice.Useful ArtThen there is finding the place.

148 Granby Street.

148 Granby Street.

Owned by the local church, just next to their Mission, but not used for some years.

Now rented to Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust.

Now rented to Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust.

Last used as a hairdresser's.

Last used as a hairdresser’s.

Now it's Granby Office of Useful Art.

Now it’s Granby Office of Useful Art.

Biscuits, you see, can be art.

The Localist Workers are getting everything ready.

The Localist Workers are getting everything ready.

Continue reading

Caledonia: Liverpool

In the pub after the second ever showing of ‘Without These Walls’
DSC03498It’s on Catharine Street, The Caledonia, and has always been there. A good basic pub that went through a few years where it tried out being a launderette too. Not now. These days it’s independently run, does great food, great music and positively encourages the bringing in of dogs. A group of us went there last night.DSC03499The musicians who gradually assembled around us didn’t have any specific name on the June programme on all the tables. Just ‘Cajun Session.’

And so the Cajun Session began.

And so the Cajun Session began.

You know the sound. Accordion driven, gently compulsive, occasional vocals in a French that’s never been to France. Enthralling. Continue reading

At the Invisible Wind Factory

DSC03053In North Liverpool along the Dock Road a company of artists, scientists, engineers and musicians are conducting an Experiment. An Experiment in Invisible Wind. So, obviously I went to have a look.

Next door to Make Liverpool where this blog is often to be found.

Next door to Make Liverpool where this blog is often to be found.

Is the new Kazimier laboratory and performance space.

Is the new Kazimier laboratory and performance space.

We are shown into the reception area, all of us joining the Experiment today.

We are shown into the reception area, all of us joining the Experiment today.

Due to the nature of the Experiment and the equipment involved we are instructed to turn off our phones and also to take no photographs. I have partial exemption on this, though once we enter the Omphalos Chamber, the core of the Experiment, I will not be allowed to take photographs. Continue reading

How to do Social Housing: Part Two

Continuing the true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on siteGranby on site - 70

The second of two detailed parts of my story about exactly how to do social housing. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.

At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.

Assemble and a few of us are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.

Assemble and a few of us, though not me, are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.

The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.

The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.

Next morning I’m up well before the dawn reflecting on what’s just happened and have published my thoughts on here before the media start arriving in the Four Streets. Continue reading

Talking Fun Palaces with Stella Duffy

DSC01114Stella Duffy, where do I start? Novelist, playwright, actor, activist and, these last few years, one of the main motivators behind Fun Palaces. About who and which, much more in a bit.

Walking through Anfield to meet Stella.

Walking through Anfield to meet Stella.

Past the Cabbage.

Past the Cabbage.

And the settled roads nearby.

And the settled roads nearby.

Continue reading

How to do Social Housing: Part One

A true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on site.On Site Part One - 1I want to tell you a story about social housing. A very detailed story (in two parts) about exactly how to do it. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

I want to tell you this story now because recently some people who I thought knew better are saying social housing can’t be done any more. Or that anyway if you do decide to do it you’re doing something called ‘Submarket Housing.’ As in subhuman, subspecies, substandard, subnormal, substitute, subterranean? You can probably only barely imagine how annoyed  this makes me feel, having been working in and around social housing now since 1972.

But this won’t be a rant, more like a demonstration of a community of people, including me, doing social housing here in Liverpool over the last few months. And it’s a detailed demonstration because over this time I’ve been the Granby community’s representative on site as we’ve worked on our latest batch of renovations. Throughout this time I’ve taken hundreds of site photographs, mainly to help us all run the job. But I think they’re interesting and even beautiful in their way. Because they show what doing social housing looks like.

Here goes.

Late last September we finished our first five houses.

Late last September we finished our first five houses.

And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.

And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.

That’s Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, one of our major funders.

That same day we went on site on our next three houses.

That same day we went on site on our next three houses.

Continue reading