Liverpool Biennial 2012:
World Museum (18)

Art To the Horseshoe Gallery at Liverpool’s World Museum (so called because internally it’s shaped like a horseshoe) (it even has curvy walls), where an abbreviated version of Liverpool’s Central Library has taken up temporary residence during the refurbishment of its usual building next door. With so many other books to read at home and, yes, with the ubiquitousness of texts in general it’s quite some time since even I’ve visited a local authority library, despite have a BA in the profession. Yes, I’m one of those people who champions the importance of libraries but rarely borrows books from them. Nevertheless, I made use of it yesterday, finally reading the afterword to Gareth Robert’s adaptation of Douglas Adams’s Doctor Who story Shada, which was inexplicable missing from the audio reading.

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The exhibition housed in the small exhibition space just before the library begins is an example of the broken narrative, which has crept out of visiting these venues in numerical order. Seeing the cake version of Mitchell’s Bakery before visiting its bricks and mortar counterpart is probably the correct order. Visiting Everton Park and trekking to Fritz Haeg’s Foraging Spiral before seeing the introductory exhibition would be the wrong order, though in truth the video about Haeg’s piece is just one small portion of a larger display by New York's James Corner Field Operations about the past and future of Everton Park, a Park for the People. This mainly consists of freestanding display boards with conceptual designs for future utility of the park.

The project shares some of the same aims as the work being done in Anfield, or wrestling back into community choice a change in the area applied through outside forces, in this case the militant tendency in the Liverpool City Council of the 1980s demolishing a part of the area to make way for a city park. As with Haeg’s landscaping endeavours, there’s an overall aim of providing, through the park, to quote the Biennial booklet, “a destination for residents and tourists alike”. The display boards break this down into a series of concepts for turning the park into a cultural meeting place, a place for festivals and most extraordinarily, tying in somewhat to the Spiral, a kind of incubator for the city, for introducing virulent plant life which can go on to populate the rest of Liverpool.

As with Hsieh Ying-Chun’s Re-Live at Exchange Flags, it’s an exhibition which will be of most interest to people who’re directly involved urban architects and Everton residents, but it should at least increase awareness amongst others, especially if they’re passing through on their way to the library. It’s worth noting that when I was travelling out to visit the park itself, the couple of bus drivers I spoke in trying to establish if their route passed by the park denied all knowledge of its existence. One even shrugged “there isn’t an Everton Park”. When I was thinking of the park beforehand I had in mind Stanley Park, which I visited in 2008 in search of a Superlambanana (another project I notice I attempted in numerical order). It has a wikipedia page, but it’s a bit barren, only really noting its location and that is has a “nature garden”.

If nothing else, the exhibition's worth visiting for the panoramic image in the top wall of the view from the park, the rubbish version of which I included in my report the other day. That so many of the city’s landmarks are visible from the park is one of the inspirations for the project. That even if it is in the north of the city it has the potential to be adopted as its central point, its heart. Of course living next to my own perfectly good park with a history which stretches back far longer and with so much important architecture around its circumference, and which influenced the designs of parks elsewhere, I’d mount a solid argument against that. Perhaps if Everton’s park does ascend, it could take responsibility for some of Sefton Park’s louder events. But we’re keeping the food and drink festival.  They’re not having that.

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