The A-Z street map as we know it today was the brainchild of Phyllis Pearsall (MBE) in 1936. It is a tool with thousands of equal working parts yet activities such as house hunting or relocating inevitably make a few pages dog-eared and marked while leaving the bulk of the A-Z as pristine sheets of streets; parts of the city that one need not, should not or cannot access.Kelly Mark’s “Liverpool A-Z” project developed with tenantspin attempts to get to know Liverpool by chatting with 26 people whose first names begin with the letters A-Z. Filmed with tenantspin in a high-rise flat at Sefton Park the 26 episodes are presented via webcasts, on the BBC Big Screen in Central Liverpool and in the foyer of the FACT Centre.
Kelly and tenantspin piece together a city in which no areas are deemed inaccessible, unnecessary or undesirable. The arts, law, history, philosophy, entertainment, sport, activism and media are all represented. As are the gaps in-between; people as citizens, observers, doers, participants in urban life and people as fine details of this great city, brought together to form more than the sum of the parts.
Kelly Mark is an artist based in Toronto. tenantspin is one of the UK’s leading community-driven Internet TV Channels, co-managed by FACT, Arena Housing and city-wide tenants.
Introduction by Kelly Mark
I bought an A-Z guide book
Trying to find the clubs and YMCAs
But when you ask in a strange town
They say, “Don’t know, don’t care and I got to go, mate”
The Jam, Strange Town
“Through the process of story telling a portrait of a city emerges from its people. Using the map guide of Liverpool A-Z as a starting point twenty-six individuals, with names ranging from Adam to Zena, were asked to share personal stories, insights and opinions in order to create a temporal guide to their city, an emotive map which includes humor, sadness, anger and love. The true essence of a city is its people.”
Kelly Mark, 2006
Introduction by Alan Dunn
Red and Blueprint
Kelly Mark’s “Liverpool A-Z” is one of tenantspin’s largest commissions. In the artist tenantspin saw a kindred spirit. In the project, tenantspin recognised a great deal of the areas it has explored since FACT first piloted webcasting in Liverpool’s oldest tower block in 1999.
tenantspin was established as a community-driven project, based around Internet TV technology, to find out about the city of Liverpool through some of its inhabitants, high-rise residents and primarily over 50 years of age. This community were given a voice that could travel far beyond this city of 442,000 inhabitants.
tenantspin is very much about painting a portrait of a city from different angles. Canelletto’s views of Venice, Lou Reed’s New York, Lowry’s Salford, Millais’ Paris, The Sex Pistol’s London, tenantspin’s Liverpool. tenantspin has created new vantage points on a city during a period when around 55 tower blocks were brought down and an estimated 10,500 windows over Liverpool lost.
Kelly chose to relocate from Toronto to Liverpool for four weeks while producing the work, an option made possible by Arena Housing donating a flat on the 8th floor of a South Liverpool tower block for Kelly to stay in and also host, and film, 26 visitors whose names begin with the letters A through to Z.
Longer than your average business trip but less than a study term, the four weeks was sufficient to invite 26 people in to her flat to sit on the same couch, to drink the same type of tea or coffee and to chat. Kelly wondered if during her stay here she could somehow “navigate” the city in a new way – conceptually if not literally.
The A-Z street map as we know it today was the brainchild of Phyllis Pearsall (MBE) in 1936. It is a tool with thousands of equal working parts yet activities such as house hunting or relocating inevitably make a few pages dog-eared and marked while leaving the bulk of the A-Z as pristine sheets of streets, parts of the city that one need not, should not or cannot access.
My own Liverpool A-Z, purchased in late 1994 while house-hunting, is a case in point. Pages 95-100 are loose, as are 73/74 and 117/118 – both areas of residence. Page 199 has a red line drawn along The New Chester Road to give someone directions to The Oval and page 102 has Hatton’s Lane marked. A further 10 pages have been referred to, making a total of 22 pages from 175.
From two project managers and a call for participants on the local BBC Radio station, the avenues starting opening up. As buildings grow from single buildings on the river bank, one email became a phone call became a project proposal became a letter and a group of 26 guests who are in no way the only 26 people who could have participated in Liverpool A-Z but tenantspin as the connection between all these people – direct and also remote – became the validation for this particular mapping.
Kelly and tenantspin have pieced together a city in which no areas are deemed inaccessible, unnecessary or undesirable. Arts, law, history, philosophy, entertainment, sport, activism and media are all represented. As are the gaps in-between; people as citizens, observers, doers, participants in urban life and people as fine details of this great city, brought together to form more than the sum of the parts.
Alan Dunn, tenantspin Manager
Liverpool, July 2006