Monday, 29 September 2014

Arthur Dooley's Last Studio Ransacked To Make Way For Flats. Its a Disgrace. Exclusive.

How long can Liverpool keep on losing links with its past and its history.
Arthur Dooley was a sculptor that I believe could not have come from anywhere other than here in my home town of Liverpool.
I fought to try and save herbert Tyson Smith's sculpture studio at the Bluecoat, predicting it would become a cheap and nasty gift shop. Guess what has happened.
There next to the garden was an evocative and inspiring glimpse of a man who helped form modern Liverpool.

He sculpted many of the reliefs on buildings such as Martins Bank Building with its slave iconocraphy and a lot of monuments around the town.

His stone carving that was on display at the Old Post office has been restored and is on show in the Met Quarter which now stands on the site. It may be slightly tucked away from the main drag but none the less with a little seaching you can easily find it. Herbert Tyson smith may have been accepted by the establishment and Liverpools merchant classes. Arthur Dooley never was although most of his work was for the clergy who also had a rennaisance in fortune after the second world war, where they were rebuilding and modernising building some godawful structures along the way.

Now another chance goes begging.

It was Arthur Dooley, I am led to believe who coined the phrase Paddy's Wigwam the Metropolitan cathedral of Christ The King, that is now becoming part of the accepted landscape, mainly by people who dont recall that it was Jerry built and leaked like a collander and needed extensive repairs within years.

Dooley was a character that did not hold back his punches, literally being a bit of a boxer himself he came to blows during one argument with The demolished to make way for the New Everyman........isnt that a sexcist term these days, shouldnt it be called the Everyperson.
 I know he would have been fighting against its demolition if he was alive.

He would also have put up a good fight to save Tyson-Smiths Studio.

Now his last studio in Seal street has been ransacked by cretinous property developers right next to the psuedo Liverpool Acadamy of arts that held a fantastic Dooley exhibtion in 2008.
The Acadamy of arts is a pale shadow of its original form that Dooley helped to recreate but none the less it had finance to stage a wonderful exhibition.
June Lornie who runs the present Acadamy has not been able to do anything to inform the public as to the impending disaster that has now unfolded I am informed regrettably, due to ill health.
So no one knew until it was too late.
Whether or not the Do Littles of this city would have cared anyway. 
Whether it would have interupted their Frapaccino lifestyle and they could have helped save it, is now hypathetical, or maybe just pathetical. 
A sad epitaph is now that no-one except the Dooley speculators care. Some of those speculators pretending to be interested in art that wouldn't know a decent sculpture if it fell on them. 
Dooley wasn't the best sculptor around.
 In fact he wasn't even a good sculptor, he got it wrong more times than he got it right. 
But he had something inside him that drove passion which is what we all are now familiar with. 
He fought for  things he believed in.
 Its not his fault that in Brain Drain Liverpool he didn't have a tradition of artistic training for the working class and he became a metalworker first and then used his experience to manufacture emotion by default. Dooleys son Paul told me that upon his fathers death in 1994 the phone never stopped ringing with people who wanted to buy his work, sensing a upward trend they now wanted to buy his art, when for decades he had struggled to pay the bills.
This is his studio almost intact at 34-36 Seel Street he was a active member of the Liverpool Academy. He campaigned to have the right for Liverpool artists to show their wares outside the Bluecoat. He is slowly being recognised as an important man active in town planning not afraid to have his say.
Remember Him.

I warned about this years ago. It is a sad day when one of Liverpool's ebulient characters studio is ransacked to turn it into …......flats.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Should The Herbert Tyson Smith Sculpture Yard Come Back To The Bluecoat School Lane Liverpool?

I went to a event at the Bluecoat as part of the national Heritage Open Days that happens annually in September.
It was a conversation with Brian Biggs and James McLaughlin who had worked with the great man, starting as an apprentice.

Sun 14 Sep

2 - 3pm Herbert Tyson Smith
The Bluecoat’s Artistic Director, Bryan Biggs, in conversation with James McLaughlin, who was apprenticed to Tyson Smith, the eminent Liverpool sculptor who had a studio at the Bluecoat and was involved in establishing the building an arts centre. (The talk takes place in what was his original studio, entrance in College Lane)

James is deaf and dumb and his son Matt did a great job of putting his thoughts into words.

At one point he was explaining about how Herbert and Jeffrey, his brother would argue all the time and often come to blows. There is passion in that there sculpture.

I did not know he had a brother and hope I have got the interpretation correct, because it is as if he did not exist, Herbert taking all the plaudits for the work.
Possibly on purpose if they were that much at loggerheads.

It seems easier to ask the reader to look down Wikipedia than me listing Tyson Smiths sterling work.

I let the small group who attended have their questions and then I first needed to make a comment and then a question to all.

I had fought a battle trying to get a separate listing within the Bluecoat general heritage listing and was not successful.
Herbert Tyson Smiths Sculpture Studio was left in a wonderful state of preservation.
Lots of his original work was on display moulds and tools etc. Any other city would have seen its potential. I accused the directors of the Bluecoat of being foolish I letting it go.
“We did not have the resourses” Brian Biggs said
“You had 14 million quid” I said
“Yes but that was for capital resourses”
“So you knock it down and get a shop in selling cheap Indonesian and Chinese rubbish instead”
He went on with a load of excuses leaving me in no doubt the reason why we lost another piece of Liverpool heritage that could have helped to promote our city to the millions of tourists who come here.
The people voted with their feet and the bargain bin shop is now closed and the place is empty.........a perfect opportunity. I said, which seemed to go down well, with all but Brian.
The page isn't long enough to list the excuses he gave even quoting to me the difficulties in getting some historical context back.
He started talking about the Edward Chambre Hardman archive, and the difficulties in getting that up and running.

This was a mistake as I told him in no uncertain terms that when I got involved in that quest I heard all the same negative stuff from a bunch of washed up trustees that had been there far too long.
They wanted to send the archive to Bradford!!!!!!
In the end we, campaigners created such a fuss that the trustees had to bow to public opinion and the national Trust stepped in.
I am so proud of the role I played as the Chairman of "The Friends of Chambre Hardman."
This sort of commitment may be required again.

It got me annoyed, what an opportunity missed.
You at the Bluecoat spend far too much time trying to make money on weddings.
I had proclaimed, there is a lot who agree.

The Bluecoat, the grand old lady of Liverpool seen the blitz, being rebuilt, used to be a wonderful artistic creative hub with a cafe and now has become a cafe with a exhibition room. I have not seen a decent expo for years there, now. What has happened to the place.

So they destroy the intact studio and then probably farm a grant off the arts council, or some of the public body to hold a talk, about Herbert Tyson Smith, remembering him in the place that Mr Biggs and co destroyed.
You couldn't make it up.

I apologised to both James and Matt for my strong views on what was to be a pleasant Sunday afternoon in conversation and many of the people there, some of whom rescued works from the Bluecoat directors act of vandalism in 2008, when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture.
All including James and Matt said it would be a wonderful idea.
Well all, but poor old scorned, Brian Biggs who sat there with a face like a singed cat.

Some fresh blood needs to be brought in before they do anymore damage.

Bring back Herbert Tyson Smith to the Bluecoat.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Antiques Roadshow-What An Amazing Experience Filming In Lutyens Crypt.

I had been invited on to the show to talk about the etched glass door panels by Hector Whistler that were originally fitted in the doors in the foyer of The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in Hope Street.
They were filming in Lutyens Crypt of the Catholic Cathedral.

Fiona Bruce as usual, had a crowd around her, as she was filmed talking about the most amazing door to a tomb, the circular revolving door that is made of stone, the idea is everything, symbolic of the stone said to have closed the Tomb of Christ.
Lutyens took the idea and made it work.

The panels looked great up there on the stage where I recall playing clarinet on Terry Riley's “In C” with ApaT orchestra in almost the same place.

It was an early start and all the usual celeb antique appraisers were there.
Seasoned veteran and AR legend Eric Knowles came over to say Hello saying he couldn't do the filming of them because we know each other.

20th century specialist Will Farmer was assigned the task of talking about them, jokingly I said to him stopping me may be a job once I get going.
As it happened it went along extremely professionally and I think it will come over really well.
I could have sold them ages ago but I have been waiting for the right buyer who will show them off
Yes I know, how the Philharmonic let them go is a mystery to me too.
It was such a pleasure to be part of such a amazing team of people right down to the volunteers who helped people arrive and made the day a pleasant experience. 
It was wonderful all the experts were down to earth and helpful.
I had no greasy palms or nerves, it was a great opportunity to talk about Liverpool's great history.
Being part of something that inspired me to become an antique dealer is fantastic and helping to promote a piece of heritage.
I hung around as long as I could absorbing the atmosphere from the set.
This is a programme that I have watched since a child the very beginnings of my journey must have been started as long ago by the amazing descriptions from Arthur Negus.

I hope they were happy with my appearance as it was a honour to have been allowed to be part of it.
 I loved it.  I hope I can do it again.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Dead Mans Penny-Edward Carter Preston.

Edward Carter Preston-The Unsung Craftsman
Mention the name.........and most people will have no knowledge of a man whose sculpture was commissioned on such a monumental scale. He entered a competition with 800 other submissions for which he received £250. The chosen design for the Death Penny, is called Pyramus
Maybe its because most of Carter Preston's work was for memorials and testaments to others, that his work has never been fully investigated.
Or it could be that his memento-mori's were of such heart rendering, that the public conception of death, and the glorious nature of conflict at the time, meant that they did not want to know the names of the people who recollected the memories of those glorious dead. There were so many grieving memories at a time when people wished to forget the horror of the carnage of World war I.
The perceived idea of art was to think of the classics as work passed down from an other age. To us.
Preferring to think that it was the work of an ancient age. Of Greek hero's, or Roman myths brought up to modern times. Death is all the same. But perhaps the classical style was why he, and many other unsung, hard working sculptors were so successful. People needed dignity, they had lost a lot.
That he gave, through his work, the dignity of death, to people, in treacherous times, and reinvented it on behalf of the top brass, the heavy establishment, those that cloaked the war, in glory, and gave reasons with which to justify the mass slaughter of a nations sons.
A justification.
The conflict that gave way to killing on a scale of mass production , that also gave us mass produced weapons of destruction, of a whole generations soul.
We wanted to mythologise the way those brave hero's went to the deaths.
Many without a wish to understand more than the basic of human instincts of self defence and proud nationhood, that would later be lost in a muddy field in a distant land.
What other cause can create the image of an old General saying “Your Country needs You”.
And they believed him. Maybe it would not happen today. The masses wouldn't let them get there. History would of course, in hindsight immortalise all those who who would not give way, and fight to the tyranny. That would defend their minds image of freedom.
These were the creation of the scarred generation that went on to create the horrors of World War II. But during the first World War they sang songs of freedom and home while being led to their deaths, on both sides, by the hands of Queen Victoria's privileged, but deadly offspring.
Who clung on to childish playground games, now played out with deadly consequences, for their subjects, that they sent over the top.
Gone were the lead soldiers, replaced by real flesh and blood, that tore.
Those in power counted a war in terms of how many more of the other side that you killed rather than the endgames. Those deadly games of starvation, and in the killing of civilians, many of who had had the fateful postman's knock themselves.
Just as many would die of broken hearts.
Could civilisation invent such a hatred for each other with a pretence of glory without even looking at the reasoning of why so much was wrong.
Or that the very Monarchs whose honour that they were upholding were the very cause of the disaster in the first place. They were the laughing assassins of war.
The faces that led the march. These tin pot dictators who had no concept of peasant life.
Just before the conflict began. The Tsar was seen to have gone out to a ball, the very night that hundreds of his subjects had been trampled in a stampede for images of him and the Tsarina....Did he really care about them?
So should they fight for him. For a time at least, they would. Before the Revolution.
Queen Victoria who gave birth to most of the ignorant spoilt fools, who were married off to congeal the Empires prowess. This small group of in-breeds spawned the generation of monarchs who sent us all of to war.
It really is a long way to Tipperary and most of them never would come back.
Paul Nash recorded the slaughter, with his, at times pretty emotionless depictions of bomb craters. And planes, that for me don't really show the true horrors of war.
I was at a local auction when a lithograph by Paul Nash of Hill 60 crater 11, made £23,000, for me it lacked the attachment, it just looks like a hole.
 It also lacked attachment for the pathetic Runcorn Auction Centre who valued it at £300. 
Nash was there, but it is shame, that his stylised depictions get all the credits, with retrospective exhibitions and epilogues, from the likes of Alastair Cook of the BBC, the next in the long line of peddlers of myths, they are the new establishment. The BBC.
So what we get from the establishment is an upgraded story from a new commentator who is too scared to go against the grain of the, said establishment, to say that the likes of Paul Nash is someone who couldn't really look, for fear because he was too scared himself.
That he did not record the true horrors, is true, because it is un-recordable.

I once found a Death Penny in a house that I was renovating when I was quite young. I did not know what it was then. But I kept it for a while until a military dealer spelt out the meaning to me. I recall admiring its detail but felt humbled, by its presence.
It was only worth about £30 at the time, there were a lot of them around.
It was not for a general or a Colonel, although there was no mention of rank, on the bronze plaques as there was no distinction to be made of the sacrifice of individuals.
They are frequently traded.
A few years later when I had learnt more about the facts that led to the deaths of so many across Europe. The same war would even bring in Americans, Canadians and Australians, it really was a World War.

And so what of the man whose initials E.Cr.P were cast into the bronze roundels that where sent to the next of kin.
The Death Penny is 5inches (120mm) across cast in bronze by the memorial factory of Acton road London. With its brave lion walking with Britannia holding a trident in the centre, as a depiction of the strong and noble British spirit. In her other hand she has a oak wreath just above the tablet that would bear the deceased name. Two dolphins swim around Britannia, symbolising Britain's sea power, and at the bottom a second lion is tearing apart the German eagle. The reverse is blank.

He didn't show the donkey symbolising those that drove the brave soldiers to death, for it would not have been right to pour scorn on all those that never returned from the fight for King and Country.
He just give it to them straight. As they would have wished, as they deserved .
He would have been proud to have been commissioned.
And he should be rewarded for it. For without the approach of dignified sculptors such as Edward Carter Preston, who knew their trade and did it well, we would not have been able to remember the many. And as bronze lasts it is now possible to look back into the individual stories behind the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The lives of the Lords and the labourer were to both be remembered equally.
They made that sacrifice hoping it would give us our freedom.
What price a Dead Mans Penny............Immortality.

I was one of the last people to see the culmination of the collection of her fathers work by Julia Carter Preston at her house in Canning Street here in Liverpool. The whole of hers and her fathers work and their memories too, went off to Hope University, to probably be lost for now.
We need an exhibition of his work a retrospective he was a very clever, and dignified man who does not get enough recognition, in my opinion.