This innovative exhibition brings together the works of artists Rachel Armstrong, Robert Lisney and Imogen Stidworthy. ‘Common Ground’ examines a sense of community and the evolution of this ‘sense’ in a world where influences; invited and uninvited, work to redefine it. This ‘sense’ is built as much upon experiences of difference as it is by place, language and lives in common. This understanding is reflected in the host venue, The Liverpool Climbing Hangar. The three artists are all engaged at different levels with activities at The Hangar and its emerging communities.
June 1st/6.30-9.30/The Climbing Hangar, 6 Birchall St, L20 8PD/0151 3450587/[email protected]
DJ: Liam Greene
Rachel Armstrong: No Pain. No Gain.
My current body of work challenges the idea of perceived limit, both physical and mental. My interests lie particularly in the human ability to exceed physical limit due to the power of the mind, with partial focus on the euphoric state achieved through physical exercise.
My film based pieces all require some form of physical input from the viewer in order to be accessed. Following the same principle as physical exercise, ‘you get out of it what you are willing to put in to it.’ The pieces are designed to become more coherent and rewarding as you expel more energy playing with pleasure and pain.
By encouraging the participant to physically exert them self in order to experience the art, the work plays with our modern society. Digital art in the form of music, photography and film is becoming increasingly and infinitely accessible and therefore increasingly disposable. Is the increasing ease of accessing digital material causing it to become less and less valued?
The work could be described as esoteric. A willingness and ability to participate could be construed as a worthiness to view the art. It brings to light the perceived secular attitude towards ‘high’ contemporary art. The work directly divides the audience, but due to physical ability and willingness to participate as opposed to an intellectual ability to understand the work.
Prefabricated. Robert Lisney 2004 ©
During the Second World War Bristol was one of the main munitions manufacturing
sites in the country. Consequently, it was heavily bombed and Bristol was left with a
severe housing shortage. The government election of 1945 saw the socialist Labour
party voted in. Their social housing policy was central to the welfare reforms within
their manifesto, which also met the desires and rising expectations of the working
Shortly after Labour was elected, nearly three thousand prefabricated houses were
built within the Bristol area. They were made with a view to offering inhabitants
an improved quality of life: situated in a desirable location and spacious enough to
afford the possibility of starting families. Each prefab was a detached two-bedroom
bungalow with a large garden. After a period of strict rationing and austerity these
new homes gave a sense of security and equality to their new residents.
In 1997 three hundred and fifty prefabs were still in use in Bristol: one of the largest
concentrations of prefabricated houses left in the country. Over the years most
prefabricated houses had been demolished and replaced by permanent housing.
That year the Bristol City Council made the decision to demolish the remaining
prefabricated houses left in Bristol.
Prefabricated (2004) commemorates not only the loss of a piece of post-war British
heritage but, more importantly, the displacement of communities as a result of the
demolition of this social housing. The areas of prefabricated housing contributed
towards the formation of communities who shared a common cultural and historical
heritage and developed unique ways of life there. The displaced residents were now
predominately elderly people, many of whom had lived there since the prefabs were
The photographic images that comprise this body of work are indicative of the
different residents’ diverse ways of living. The grid-like display of the photographs
in this exhibition echoes the uniform layout of the prefabricated housing they depict:
allowing us to recognise how each one has been individually characterised by the
people who inhabit them.
Prefabricated (2004) was produced just three months before the demolition of
these buildings began. By this time a number of the homes featured in the series
they had already been evacuated, suggesting that the process of displacing residents
had already begun. It could be argued that the Council’s decision to demolish the
remaining prefabricated houses was a move in the opposite direction of the original
policies set out by Labour in 1945. This movement might equally be seen as an
example of how such decision-making processes, when governed purely by statistics,
display an indifference to, and disregard for, the individual communities and ways of
life that have been built around social housing.
More info on this artist to follow.
Imogen Stidworthy: 53° 27′ 46.67” N, 2° 59′ 10.35” W.
(extract from installation) 2011-12, A 3D laser scan of the demolition site from which the brick in the featured work was taken.
Duratrans on lightbox 300 x 125 x 25cm
A lightbox displays an archival museum photograph of a brick, which was taken from a demolition site
in Bootle after the final collapse of no. 46 Willard St on August 23rd, 2010. Many thousands of workers’
houses were constructed in and around Liverpool during the 19th century; in the 21st, no. 46 was one of
50,000 of them which were earmarked for demolition, as part of an economic process with far-reaching
consequences for the city and its communities. After demolition, undamaged bricks are extracted from the
debris and become part of this cycle of economic transformation. They go to a Manchester brickyard to be
cleaned, sorted, ordered into stacks, shrink-wrapped and sold to build luxury developments in cities such
as Chester and York, and to Japan, where they have have a word for the beauty of the signs of wear and
Perspective: Art. Sport. Community.
‘Common Ground’ examines a sense of community and the evolution of this ‘sense’ in a world where influences; invited and uninvited, work to redefine it at all levels of the human experience.
This sense of community is built as much upon experiences of difference as it is by place, language and lives in common. This understanding is reflected in the host venue, The Liverpool Climbing Hangar. Created as a venue for indoor bouldering (sub 5m climbs, without ropes, over matting), The Hangar has its own emergent community exhibiting a multitude of identities brought from the other communities to which they belong.
The three exhibiting artists are three such people, who despite being regularly engaged on different levels with activities at The Hangar, had not met prior to Common Ground being organised. They are now catalysing the evolution of The Hangar’s sense of community by redefining the use of the space and the effect of the space on the user. It is hoped this paradigm shifting redefinition of space use will lead to the continuation of a creative co-construction of space/community.
Like our artists, people using The Hangar are regularly shifting between micro communities and forming new ones, staving off a static notion of a sense of community. They do it individually, in groups and use these communities for a variety of reasons, on different levels, for gratification ranging from pleasure to pain. On the night of the exhibition, The Hangar summer climbing league will also be running and allow a glimpse into the physical and emotional expression of bouldering and its people.