Caravan Gallery’s Pride of Place uses Liverpool empty shop

Jan Williams and Kilburn ladiesThroughout LOOK/13 Liverpool International Photography Festival artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale of The Caravan Gallery will be transforming an empty shop at Marine Point in New Brighton, Merseyside into a dynamic photography exhibition-cum-alternative visitor information centres exploring both Liverpool and the Wirral in all their multifaceted glory.

It’s part of Pride of Place, a project by artists Jan Williams (pictured left, centre) and Chris Teasdale devised in response to people’s desire to participate in their work. Whether popping up in a Belgian field or disused factory, turning an empty shop into a community arts hub or exhibiting in a ‘normal’ gallery, the outcome is the same. Caravan Gallery photos act as a catalyst, encouraging people from all walks of life to get together and talk about where they live and how places affect the way they feel and behave. Personal connections are made as people share stories and swap information. Familiar places may even take on a new allure as overlooked details come to light and people reconnect with their surroundings.

Local residents and visitors are then invited to contribute by sharing their views and using their creative talents to help produce a wonderfully anarchic and refreshingly honest exhibition celebrating the area in question.

The Liverpool and Wirral Pride of Place Projects will explore local and regional distinctiveness. The exhibitions will grow day by day as visitors add their own observations and creations to The People’s Map and The People’s Wall.

These evolving all-embracing exhibitions will include photography, drawing, painting, video, collage, knitting, writing, walking, sculpture, found objects, jewellery and memorabilia. There will be performance, poetry and pondering aplenty. Each venue will feature a creative zone containing materials for making posters, picture postcards, souvenirs, leaflets, flyers, and flags.

Caravan Gallery & boxingThere will be competitions for all with prizes donated by local businesses and an unusually entertaining survey giving residents and visitors from elsewhere a chance to say exactly what they think about Liverpool and Wirral.

Local groups, societies and individuals are encouraged to bring along their Merseyside-related creations and items for possible inclusion in the exhibition.

These could include 2D and 3D artworks they have made themselves, photos, films, scrapbooks, old postcards, books and brochures, souvenirs and memorabilia. Items may be scanned and returned or kept until the end of the exhibition. Alternatively they can be donated to The Caravan Gallery archive. Some of the material collected may eventually appear in a commemorative publication.

Everyone is welcome to participate – schools, colleges, art and craft groups, photography and local history societies, sports associations, gardening clubs, writers and musicians, local food producers, shoppers, road sweepers, and civil servants.

The exhibitions are not completed until the final day so each will have a closing celebration where participants and visitors can admire the finished display.

The Caravan Gallery is a gallery in a caravan and mobile visual arts project set up in 2000 by Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale to take art to people and places other galleries might not easily reach. Their extensive photographic archive, publications and postcards document the reality and surreality of ‘the way we live today’. The Caravan Gallery artists have previously worked with the Empty Shops Network on projects in Brixton, Carlisle, Coventry, Kilburn and Shoreham by Sea.

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