Liverpool Biennial 2010: The Caravan Gallery.

The Caravan Gallery

Art Parked in The Bluecoat’s courtyard during the first few days of the Biennial, The Caravan Gallery is the method that artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale have for displaying their record of the urban 21st century, the changing times from the point of view of us ordinary citizens. It’s tiny interior which still retains many of the fixtures of the vehicles original purposes, contains dozens and dozens of photographs, taken from across Britain, with the exhibition modified to fit the location were the caravan is parked that week.

Williams and Teasdale purposefully ignore the usual landmarks, the sites that are already the subject of a thousand tourist shots, instead documenting to some extent the urban decay but mostly the parts of the community and landscape usually forgotten as property developers and urban renewal set about their task; everyone remembers the shop on Smithdown Road advertising “sun beds” and “piano lessons” but who thought to photograph it for posterity? They did.

For this local, the experience is was rather like entering the interior of my own brain, my memories projected against the walls. They have shots of South Parade in Speke before most of it was torn down to make way for the new park, the old one now inhabited by a Morrisons, leisure centre and library. Depressing images of the International Garden Festival site pre-development. And newer elements, shoppers in Whitechapel with dozens of Primark bags.

It’s impossible not enthuse, with pointing, and “oh it’s…”. From what Jan Williams said, that’s the reaction of every visitor and they spend their days listening to people's anecdotes which at some point they’re going to begin recorded so that they have an aural archive too. This isn’t just an art piece, its an important record of our social history, especially since, as she urged me to write in the visitors book, our town centre are losing their individual identity in the wake of the chain stores.

The caravan has well moved on now, currently in Portsmouth according to the Facebook page. But the photo gallery on their website offers a taste of what you may have missed, the bingo halls and Polo tower.   Google Street View may still offer a world were the likes of Woolworths is still open, but they’ll update eventually and that’s when The Caravan Gallery comes into its own, recording our homes for posterity.

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