Unruly Tendency, 2010, Liverpool Biennial
Empty Shop due for demolition clad in plastic ribbon.
Floating Mint Tea House. (made with recycled furniture, mint plants, wood burning stove)
Collaborative community project along Leeds-Liverpool canal, Bootle, 2009.
Going Public 08, Port City Safari, aMAZE Lab, Milano, Italy.
Review by Jude Rosen
Terminus - destination, last stop, station, terminal
(definition of terminus, Oxford Dictionary & Thesauraus III)
Terminus, a film made by the Liverpool artist, Ben Parry – echoes the Lumiere brothers’ pioneering tracking shot of 1897 of the first electric overhead railway – the Liverpool Overhead Railway (LOR). Parry’s single real-time tracking shot follows the port from south to north along the River Mersey in daytime and then in a single return shot retraces its steps north to south by night, lasting twenty five minutes each way. The camera, stabilised by a gyroscope, mounted on a crane and tracking vehicle, had to navigate overhead obstacles and bumpy roads while imitating the movement along tracks. It follows the route of the ovie – or Dockers’ Umbrella as the railway was affectionately known - that first opened in 1893 and was closed down in 1957. At an elevation of eight metres, the camera reaches exactly the height of the old railway giving a perfect view of the seven kilometres of the port. Logistically as challenging as technically, the tracking vehicle was accompanied by a police escort to get through road blockages while filming took place at the weekend when there is no traffic, the port is empty and eerily quiet.
The difficulties in making the film highlight the degree to which the port is shrouded in secrecy, invisible to the public eye and the surrounding areas subject to surveillance. Yet the technical achievement of the film is eclipsed by the artistic-political one: restoring the experience of being on the ovie, reconstructing the journey with the vista of the port. Although not the view that would have been seen before the railway was closed down, still there is the same expansive, wide horizon that was only visible from the train. However Ben Parry does not bask in nostalgia - many aspects of the built environment have changed, most notably the containerisation and contraction of the working port, mainly confined to the northern shore, the new waterfront buildings including the ill-fated Fourth Grace*and the Albert Dock, and the expansion of leisure facilities. So the film does not reconstruct what it was like then, nor solely evoke what it is like now. Rather it takes the viewer back to the memory of riding on a train – the physical and emotional excitement of the gentle jogging up and down, maybe as a child travelling on one for the first time and seeing the landscape unfold. More than a realistic view of the port as it is now, the film opens up an imaginative space.
...Experiencing the port through this train journey and the different perspectives it gives of the city slows down and widens perception creating a new attentiveness to the environment, creating the time to take it in and to reflect. Parry shows train travel, just as much as walking for the Situationists, changes apprehension of the world. The pleasant sensation of a leisurely ride that the film conveys reminds the viewer of the lack of time and places left in which to reflect – the derelict churches, the playing fields that have been sold off and the demise of open-air swimming pools, the encroachment on heathland and marshes, the spread of enclosed shopping malls. So it brings to the viewer’s attention the privatisation of public space, and in this case also of a public view.
Since the closure of the LOR in 1957, the panoramic view of the port has only been possible as a private view from a hotel window or waterfront apartment, held in by static sightlines. The panoramic view was always blocked at ground level and occluded by car. The privatisation of the view of the port has disrupted the living, breathing, farseeing connection of Liverpudlian citizens with the port, the river and the horizon of their city. As in many other port cities, the port has been cut off from the heart of the city...
Marx by Twilight, 2013 - ongoing. Peter McCaughey and Ben Parry
Pensioners knit bespoke balaclavas for public statues around London.
Cultural Hijack at Architectural Association School of Architecture
TRANSFER 1968 / 2013
by Allan Kaprow
Artists recreating Transfer: Ben Parry & Peter McCaughey
Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, London, 26th May 2013
Stephen Broad, David Bamber (DDRS limited, supplied Barrels.)
Participants: Stephen Broad, David Bamber, Adam Stoneman, Nuala Kenny, Stefanie Bauerochse, Yana Sarna, Sara Smith, Andi Schmied, Sam Ainsley, Lizzy O’brien, Fionntán McCaughey, Paul Bradley, Regan Bradley, Alex Clarke, Terezie Konsová, Štěpán Graffneck, Alf Draper, Ivor Draper, Darren Sutton, Lauren O’Farrell, Tom Lee, Donna Marie Nudd, Michael Dovak, Darren Sutton, Barney Francis, Terry Galloway, Roman Sebastyanski, Peter McCaughey, Ben Parry,