The Ecology of Care

Open Eye Gallery Launch, September 2022

Against the backdrop of ships on the river Mersey blowing their whistles in unison, the group exhibition The Ecology of Care opened at Open Eye Gallery last week. It was surreal and perhaps appropriate, that the mother of the nation, our female icon and titular head, should be honoured at the beginning of an exhibition that speaks of love, kindness and care as key human attributes.

Despite the broad range of subject matter, from isolation in lockdown, to dementia and motherhood, the exhibition opening was a joyous remembering of all we share as humans. Raising the roof, whilst herding errant babies, were the fabulous Singing Mamas, lead by artist and performer, Rachel White of Holistic Harmonies.

Singing as a means to unite, collect and rise up is as old as the trees. But none of us were really expecting the acoustic heights of this performance, which lifted spirits atrium high, on a week that was otherwise quite sad and worrying (as usual). Walking around Liverpool 1, there was a sense that people felt lost and shopping wasn’t helping.

Once the opening was over, I joined Jo Ward from Improving Me – the principle funder, along with Arts Council England – for a series of meetings with venues about the audio tour planned for November. Although the experience of working with the team at Open Eye has been nothing but pleasurable for someone who is more accustomed to drafty disused shops and DIY installations, there is something really thrilling about placing the images and audio from the project around Liverpool city centre.

Talking to Irene at Central libraries and Siobhan at National Museums Liverpool, the numbers of families accessing the fantastic free facilities on their doorstep has dropped since Covid. We wondered together if the disruption to the baby groups had impacted on a new cohort of parents who never got the word of mouth recommendations: good places to spend time with young ones without spending money.

It feels exciting to plan something that can breath life into these beautiful buildings, if only in a small way. I raced around photographing the great spots families can use free of charge, and meanwhile taking in some highlights; did you know that Liverpool Central libraries has one of a handful of Audubon giant books. There were five different original Audubon publications between 1826-1871. Most of these publications had only one edition, but one had four editions, and another up to eight editions. So Liverpool is sitting on a small fortune in its humble library. Every day a new page is turned….

The Audubon giant series, one of only four sets in the world.

Read more about the exhibition here

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