Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Hidden Liverpool

It's worth highlighting the publication of six slim books which draw attention to a side of Liverpool which didn't get a look-in during culture year:
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article5331850.ece .
Despite the provenance of the article (the title is a Murdoch paper, of course), there are some valid points made in the piece:
"The authors are less concerned with the showpieces -- the two cathedrals, the lavishly refurbished St George's Hall, the monumental Pier Head offices -- than with the fabric of everyday working life and its landscapes. They give an architectural dimension to the sort of grassroots community experience easily overlooked by glamorous 'Culture' projects. A celebrity culture like ours, after all, is predictably fascinated by celebrity buildings; and in no conventional way can the Steble Street Baths and Washhouse or the Sheltering Home for Destitute Children in Myrtle Street be regarded as celebs."
Such institutions would have been known to my grandparents' & great-grandparents' generation.
The article goes on to observe accurately:
"Liverpool is, of course, a special case, emphatically 'Not Just Another Place', as a tourism poster boasts outside Lime Street Station. An insular city preoccupied with its own histories and mythologies, it is militantly unEnglish, sharp, feisty with the energy of migration and immigration. It can sometimes, however, seem indifferent to its architecture; flash new buildings go up before old dereliction has been cleared."
It's certainly of some consolation that this scandalously overlooked aspect of the city's social & architectural heritage has been noted in the final days of its supposed year of culture.

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