Liverpool Biennial 2012:
Everton Park (14)

Art The first thing you notice on entering the Heyworth Street entrance of Everton Park, as directed by the Biennial booklet, is the view. Living at the top of the tower block, I’ve become somewhat used to seeing the geography laid about me as I wake up in the morning and although the Pier Head stretches out in the far distance, it’s Liverpool Cathedral which dominates our skyline (as well as the shiny roof of the massive Tesco on Park Road). Nevertheless as I wandered up the main pathway I was greeted with this:

Or rather the version of this which my own eyes captured rather than the poor camera on my previous generation mobile telephone. From inside the city centre it’s not quite possible to take in just how much the skyline has changed, how these modernist edifices are slowly invading the airspace, and why there might be jitters about the planned increase in office blocks in the Peel Holding’s development, Liverpool’s own equivalent of Paris’s Le Defence. As you can see from this view, that ferry’s probably already sailed and extra edifices would simply add to the uniformity of this visual.

Finding Everton Park was relatively easy thanks to a bus (no.17) from Queens Square and a sympathetic passenger who knew which part of Heyworth Street I needed alight. Finding the art in question was less so. Having entered at the gate far above, the big red banner leading the way, after looking at the view, I wandered around aimlessly in the pouring rain for about half an hour, with only Berlioz’s Te Deum for dramatic company, my only guide the booklet’s taunting photo (taken by old friend of the blog Pete Carr) of gardeners in bright sunlight as a guide.

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Only after doubling back on myself and returning to the entrance did I notice a thin line of cut grass leading up a hill. Taking a chance, and walking slowly so as not to slip over, I edged upwards. At the top I looked down and finally found what I assumed to be Fritz Haeg’s Foraging Spiral with Heyworth Street beyond. Essentially if I’d approached the entrance from the bus stop way before I would have noticed the start of the piece, but because I’d gotten off the stop closest and further up, I’d completely missed it, attracted in by the banner and massive gate.

Haeg’s work was created in partnership with the local residents and collaborators, part of a project the main plans for which are at the World Museum, or will be since for me they’re in the future (18).  There’s plenty about the project at the artist's website, which included an archaeological dig, the planting of this garden and a temporary dome utilised for conversations about the future of the park and area. The Biennial booklet mentions an HQ, but since I couldn’t see anything else on my visit, I’m assuming that’s the temporary dome of which he speaks.

The Foraging Spiral is “a 6 foot wide by 450 foot long bed of wild, native, and edible plantings” which begins at the road and continues into one of the fields ending in a circle with wooden tree stumps in the centre. Haig has a list of the plants on his website. On this rainy day, few were that visible apart from some small, scarlet red flowers, the colour almost brighter version of the Biennial’s signature colour which acted like beacons against the brown surrounding branches and leaves and even browner dirt. That’s probably a decent, if inadvertent metaphor for the festival flourishing in the city.

Having visited walled gardens in the past and seen these plants carefully laid out in rows and tended, it’s surprising to find them in this relatively urban environment open to the elements. I’m honestly not sure how I’m meant to feel about it. Since they are edible, are we supposed to help ourselves if the fruit has ripened? Will this be a permanent reminder of this festival bring produce every twelve months? Will it be looked after? Perhaps those questions will be answered when I see this video at the exhibition in a couple of weeks.  Watching it before would be cheating.

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