Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dead Pigeon Gallery

Afternoon All,

Was talking to a friend the other day about how we don't write letters anymore, (for obvious reasons) and I thought I'd take that approach to the next blog (this) as it may spur me on to write something, as I haven't been in blog mode since the dawn of time so I'm writing you a letter instead.

Dear Pals,

Hope all is well your end? Do respond when you can with tales of adventure and mishap.

I wanted to write for ages but didn't know where to start, so I'm starting in the middle, only it wont be the middle to you as you don't know where the middle is, to you it's the beginning so all is well. 

The Dead Pigeon Gallery - yeah what a name I know, ha! I came up with that after meeting a fella called Jason a few months ago, actually it was ages ago, more than a few months - I know there was a hurricane or something like that on the day (it was dead windy, proper fat wind) when we met for the first time to go and look around this building his family owns off the back of London Rd. (The hurricane thingy - fat wind - even had a name...not kidding)

Anyway, Ronnie of Coming Home (which I co-pilot) had got talking to Jason Abbott at some event or other, Jason had originally been introduced to Ronnie to ask him what he knew about the local history of the area around London Rd. They later got chatting about what each other does which led to talking about housing, specifically empty houses then empty buildings and eventually...art.

Meanwhile back at Coming Home headquarters I'm chatting to Jane MacNeil, a photographer we'd taken on to document our first year - about how I want to develop an exhibition responding to some of the photographs she's taken so far. 

I was particular taken with some photo's of plasterers going about their business working on our first house in Walton. Now all finished and happily tenanted. 

OnSite: The Plasterer - Home One

I had this thing in my head about sharing my residency role if you like, I mean we all know an artist in residence simply means that the artist, at some point, will respond to their new environment/themes/people around them and produce work that simply wouldn't exist if it wasn't for that set of circumstances. (Unless the artist is using the residency as an 'away from home studio' then obviously that's different and you apply or accept the ones you feel are right for you.)

At first with Coming Home that was my 'title' if you like, 'artist in residence' because I'm an artist (I know you know!) and I work at Coming Home - but it was misleading sometimes - as the point we wanted to illustrate is by having an artist co-run something like Coming Home was that, yes, it may lead to physical art being made - but more fundamentally it is the way an artists mind works that can add to the process. It's not something we see as a bolt on or an add on, it's integral, Coming Home has formed by ongoing discussion and debate, sometimes in agreement and sometimes not, by two people from very different backgrounds, but with similar aims.

In this instance Ronnie asked me to work with him because I wasn't a housing expert, I don't want to be a housing expert and don't find spreadsheets or any kind of administrative tasks for that matter interesting or healthy may I add!

Apart from the obvious reason that I lived in an area subjected to the Housing Market Renewal Initiative and watched my house and community bulldozed so as a result 'looked at housing' for the first time. 
It was because I have a background in Fine Art, meaning I'd bring stuff to the table completely different to Ronnie. I hadn't really realised it myself until this project but I feel like I've been trained to ask 'why' and analyse everything - but not necessarily from a business perspective, from a, human being broader social perspective. This led to a piss taking new title role at Coming Home for me (created during recent election fever) as Minister of Art and Ethics, we decided not to have 'shadow' as part of it to be positive that when Labour win we've invented a new role for an MP in Jeremy Corbyn's cabinet.

So, back to the space! 

On that very windy day we went to meet Jason in Kempston Street off London Rd. It's a massive site with lots of different spaces and structures sectioned off within, loads of potential exhibition spaces but I was taken with one part in particular...

top floor of former printers/warehouse owned by Jason Abbott's family

top floor - dead pigeons

...and all the pigeons in it. Many still alive, flying in through the windows and the roof, but many are dead. Everywhere you look, a dead pigeon.

I can only think that they've got trapped inside? Or died of natural causes maybe? (I hoped) 

I know everyone hates them - but it made me feel quite sad - but it also shows that there's always life in the spaces that look dead. 

I knew it would make a fantastic exhibition space - the light and scale of the room is incredible - plus - I like where it is - the back of London Rd - near TJ's - and all the memories that has for me and my family, seeing as pretty much nearly ever single one of us have worked there at one time or another, my Mum for over 20 years. 
And before then, my Nanny lived on Islington and worked as a tailor in the same area before she went off and joined the WAF. Lots of memories and thoughts sprung from just one site visit.

Jason told us about ideas to turn the entire site around and have it thriving again, working alongside other family run businesses that've been in the area for decades. He told us how his Dad had started a small printer business there in the 60's and how it had grown. It's had many different tenants since then but alas this part of the building has obviously fallen into disrepair but Jason and his family are working hard to turn it round and are about to start work in the coming weeks on an extensive refurb and it'll soon be known as The Tapestry, an apt name in area known for it's fabric.

Over the next few weeks every-time I spoke to Jason, I referred to the bit I liked most for the exhibition as,

'the top floor,'
'the middle building, you know?' 
'the bit in the middle'
'where all the birds are...'
'the dead birds...' 
'the pigeons'
'the dead pigeons' 

Then it clicked - that was it's name, The Dead Pigeon Gallery. I felt like it was a nod to those birds, the much detested urban pest. I loved the juxtaposition in my head of the words 'dead pigeon' and 'gallery' and how they throw a spanner in the works. Don't they? I love that the pigeons get a nod and get to join in on the Coming Home journey.

So, the current state of play is that, myself, Jane Macneil, Catherine Dalton, Patrick Kirk-Smith, Andrea Ku, Josie Jenkins, Erika Rushton, Colette Lilley, Deb Morgan and Jason Hollis have all agreed and are all wandering about Liverpool independently, thinking about either plasterers or pigeons!

I gave them all the same photo's of the plasterers Jane took that inspired me - they all know about Coming Home, then we invited them down to Jason's building, forever to be known to us now as, The Dead Pigeon Gallery. 

I've asked all the artists to go and do their thing, and handed the 'artist residency' baton to them if you like. 

It opens out the whole project, lets more dialogue in, leads to deeper questions and discussion about something like Coming Home, from the tenants to the plasterers and all the work the trades do, the solicitors to the architect - in a project like this, I was passionate about highlighting the work everybody does to turn an empty house into a home. 

There's loads of us! 

Maybe the next exhibition will be, OnSite: The Accountant!

happy first tenant of Coming Home

Right, so the nitty gritty and the main reason for this long letter is to invite you to the show, I know you're dead busy but if you put it in you're diary now you can work around it!

Opening night, Thursday September 7th 2017 

6pm - 9pm

Coming Home Liverpool presents....

OnSite: The Plasterer 
The Dead Pigeon Gallery

Kempston St entrance - off the back of London Road, Liverpool...

The show will run from the 7th - 14th September open daily from 1pm - 6pm

if you go up as far as Lidl, opposite is Glidart St, turn right onto Kempston

PS. I'll send some flyer/invites out too as well - but at least you've got a heads up now.

P.P.S I've missed you!

Yours Sincerely,



  1. Looking forward to this. I'm sure it will be a great event. Thanks, Jayne.

  2. Wow such a cool Text, i like your Blog very much

    Best Greetings from the Liverpool Seo Agency

    1. Hello Betsy, so sorry I've only just seen your message! Thank you - if you ever want to chat about leave me an email and I'll get in touch.