‘The World Lived Here: L8’ explores the individual lives and identities of the people behind the public face of the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust in Toxteth, Liverpool 8. Residents worked with Darryl Georgiou and Rebekah Tolley, and photographer Andrew Jackson to create images, film and text to remember and redefine the area three decades on from the riots of 1985. The regeneration of the area is now on an upward ascent with four streets within the Granby Triangle removed from the council clearance plans. In 2015 a collaboration between Granby Community Land Trust and artists’ collective, Assemble, culminated in their winning the 2015 Turner Prize. Future developments include include the Granby Winter Garden and artists’ studio.
Georgiou and Tolley’s approach to the residency aimed to be a transparent, collaborative and participatory one, working with Granby residents – including particularly ‘pro-active’ community members. Images, text and film from ‘The World Lived Here: L8’, project in Toxteth, with Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust are featured at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool as part of Culture Shifts: Local until 22nd December 2017.
VIDEO: Georgiou and Tolley: ‘The World Lived Here: L8
“Our images are concerned with the prevailing atmosphere of this place. They respond to residents’ thoughts, memories, archive photographs and the streets of Granby/Toxteth today. The work connects with the here and now: events, locations or simply people reflecting on the strangeness of recollecting the past. One recurring theme being the subject of ‘how places feel’ – genius loci – and a research question, which approaches historical memory and asks: How does the presentation of the past shape the image of the present? Our ambition has been towards a ‘collaborative’ form of photography; socially engaged, process-led photo-image-making, and constructed imagery that attempts to engage with people represented in the work. Family photos and postcards became a recurring theme, as we talked to our collaborators. ‘Picture Postcards’ became a way for sharing ideas, thoughts and stories, or exchanging messages.
Whilst editing our pictures late at night, breaking television news showed a block of flats on fire. Inner cities and their most vulnerable citizens are too often neglected. Any community has to feel safe to thrive. We can hopefully learn from the past and our project aims to explore this possibility.”
‘a postcard to Waltraud, L8’ ‘You have to live in a place to change it’. Waltraud Boxall came to Toxteth following the disturbances of September 1985. A retired educator from Germany – specialising in anti-racist approaches to literacy – feels a deep connection with the Liverpool L8 she calls home. Now in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, she reflects on the possibility of being an “outsider” once more.
‘a postcard to Daler, L8’ Daler Singh and family. Daler moved to Toxteth from Handsworth and experienced both communities during and post the disturbances of the 1980s. “I’ll meet you on the corner…” I’d say. “80s Granby looked like Beirut post conflict. I didn’t want work friends to know where I lived.”
‘a postcard to Joe & Theresa, L8’. Remembering & re-imaging Granby cinema & Toxteth radio. To ensure a transparent, collaborative and participatory approach behind our residency, we worked with Granby residents – including particularly ‘pro-active’ community members, such as Joe Farrag and Theresa MacDermott. Highly active in a resurgent L8 community, knowledgeable of and nostalgic for yesterday, whilst actively building a better tomorrow.
‘a postcard to Michael Pierce and Prince Parsley L8’. (Detail) A stray cat – Prince Parsley Kiarastami – adopts a cinema programmer from ‘somewhere down south. Michael, a relatively recent newcomer to Granby, has enthused us with his brilliant pop-up cinema, Scalarama. “Being here is about creating something. You have to work to change a place; tell the story so that people get enthused”.
‘a postcard to Kevin ‘Kipper’ Jones, L8′. Safe, decent shelter. Homes make a healthy community. ‘Kipper’ interviewed in his removals van, discussing social housing, L8 politics and policies.
‘a postcard to Eleanor, L8’
‘a postcard to Ducie Street’. ‘Take a seat’. One of our key Granby collaborators, Joe Farrag, in his own words, “tied chairs to trees” to act as an ‘outdoor gallery’ for people to view community artworks created on boarded up houses within Granby ‘triangle’.
‘a postcard to Granby Street’. ‘L8 What was lost?’ One of our collaborators, Lee Ellison – a cab driver and former L8 resident – mused on the 1980s disappearance of now “flattened streets”, of a once “safe and vibrant” community.
‘a postcard to the Somali Centre and the Al Madina grocery store, L8’. The Land of Punt…Somalia?).. A chance discussion with various members of the ‘Liverpool Somali Community Centre involved musings on matters from football to the Pharaohs’ original roots and possible Somali origins. Establishing a visceral trip from the Blues against Reds onto history and time itself via the yellow/gold of ancient Egypt and the long displaced ‘Land of Punt’. The Liverpool L8 locals claimed that Queen Hatshepsut’s temple in Luxor evidenced that her mother, Hathor, was from ‘Punt’ – a place that the Pharaohs considered the origin of their “spirit home and culture”.
‘a postcard to Harold the fishmonger & shark, L8’. During our early conversations with Granby residents, including Vicky Walker, and her daughter Michelle, the subject of Harold the fishmonger and his shark kept coming up. Until the late 1980s at the bottom of Granby street, was the famous shop – where all nationalities would buy the fish of their choice. A symbol of what was, what was lost, a story retold by generations here, recalling ‘a good man in a flat cap’ with a shark in his front window. “Harold the fishmonger had a shark in his window, and all the kids, men and women went to see the shark. It was famous, that shop.” Josephine Burger, Granby resident and contributor the Granby Workshop newspaper.
Open Eye Gallery, 19 Mann Island, Liverpool L3 1BP. Georgiou and Tolley, ‘The World Lived Here: L8′, photo artworks, video and ‘postcards to L8’ exhibited as part of Culture Shifts: Local, until 22nd December 2017
Main Image: ‘a Granby Kiss, L8’. In memory of the lost streets of L8, ‘that which was lost’. Here’s to the future.
Twitter: @georgioutolley @granby4streetsclt @OpenEyeGallery
See also: Georgiou and Tolley: Magician Walks into the Laboratory