L— A City Through Its People brings together three distinct archives that share unique approaches and perspectives in telling a story about Liverpool, its people, and the ideals that lend the city charm and a distinct personality.
The exhibition is held online by Open Eye Gallery, until 20 March. You can view it here.
Combined, the exhibition covers a time period of Liverpool from the 1950s to the present day. The images span evolutions in industry, society, and leisure at times of rapid change and challenge.
Through these archive projects, we can see that the photographs we choose to keep or share with others reveal the ideas that we value. This exhibition celebrates the creativity and communities that are the beating heart of the city.
In Gallery 1, RED by Emma Case introduces us to the pride and glory of being part of the Liverpool football family. The exhibition features portraits, images, interviews and original memorabilia donated by the football fans, expressing their generosity and spirit.
These mementos and objects form the base of an ever-expanding archive that Case is continuing to shape and grow. The personal images and stories shared from the fans’ perspective give the exhibition glorious insight into the passion and lifelong commitment of being a Red.
Emma Case says about the project:
RED is about holding those memories of being a kid and going to your first game, heading off on a coach with your mates on a week-long trip to Rome.
It’s the energy and colour of Walton Breck Road when walking up on match day, or fighting back tears whenever things might be tough and you hear the Kop roar ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It’s memories and nostalgia. It’s collecting and sharing. Not just looking at what happened, but more about how it felt when you were there.
Gallery 2 introduces us to Scottie Press, Britain’s longest running community newspaper and a champion of people’s voices. Scottie Press will celebrate its 50th anniversary in February 2021, and this display of original archival photographs follows Liverpool through the ages, observing the city through the lens of visual activism and grassroots journalism.
The images, donated by local residents or photographed by Scottie Press photographers, are loosely divided into five categories: work, housing and architecture, politics and protest, religion, and childhood.
The exhibition draws links to different parts of the city through a large map that encourages visitors to make personal connections between their own experiences and memories of Liverpool and the shared archival photographs, newspaper content, and video.
Joel Hansen, Editor of Scottie Press says:
Over the years, the paper has been woven deeply into the social fabric of Liverpool, acting as a collective voice for working-class neighbourhoods. The paper is a symbol of solidarity, pride and the cultural identity that runs intergenerationally through the spirit of local communities.
The collaborative exhibition will display a collective visual memory of Scotland Road’s heritage through unveiling the newspaper’s vast archive. It will allow visitors to become completely immersed in the culture, heritage and landscape that have been documented over five decades of Scottie Press’s grassroots reporting, campaigning and activism.
Tell It Like It Is is the collaborative project in Gallery 3 between photographer Ian Clegg and writer Laura Robertson. The image-text relationship is used to draw out the range of emotions, such as hope and melancholy, in the face of the shifting nature of the city. The exhibition consists of photographs that have never been seen before and introduce a new perspective on the city from the perspective of a Liverpool resident and photographer.
Laura Robertson, Open Eye Critical Writer-in-Residence, says:
It’s a rare treat in my line of work to discover a box of negatives that no one else has seen for over 40 years. I’m thrilled that Ian shared these historic images with me, which has led to us collaborating on new writing that puts them into context.
We hope that this first Tell It Like It Is exhibition will kickstart not only brand new discussions about our home city of Liverpool, but also a new series of winter workshops that reflect the experiences of others about where they live – in their own words, in their own way.
Themes of change, creativity, and feelings of belonging run through these archives, highlighting the attachment and love for the city from the people donating, creating or seeing themselves in the images. Here, the archive acts as a way of showing the many faces of Liverpool over the years, a city for everyone.
Photographer Ian Clegg remembers:
From the 1960s to the 1980s my sister and I had regular visits and long stays with relatives in the ‘Welsh’ streets which made me even more attached to Liverpool than my origins in Wavertree.
I wanted to preserve some of these feelings, and the only way I knew how was to use my camera. I am delighted that Laura has brought a supportive narrative to these images, hopefully encouraging others to reflect and share with us their own attachments to the city.