Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Liverpool to Liverpool

In this post I want to introduce you to a brilliant artist: Simon Faithfull. A common thread that runs through Faithfull’s work is his effort to re-enchant the everyday and find the magical in the mundane. His luminous fake moon lit up 2008’s Big Chill music festival in Herefordshire, rising and setting like the real thing and fooling many festival-goers. His book, Lost, each page telling the story of an object he has lost over the last three decades, was left in random places around Britain for strangers to find and then lose again. “Escape Vehicle #6”, a bogstandard office chair, was sent 18 miles upwards dangling from a weather balloon, the onboard camera showing it nestling between the curvature of the earth and the blackness of space. From an early age, Faithfull says, he was gripped by “a melancholy awareness that I was tethered to this mundane realm” and remembers being jealous of flies because they “could even walk on ceilings”.

Faithfull’s idea of sending an office chair into space seems to have been ripped off by Toshiba in their new laptop ad and also in a recent edition of the BBC science programme Bang Goes the Theory, although they sent up a toy spaceman with a parachute.

Now he’s just completed Liverpool to Liverpool, a new piece of public art for Liverpool’s Lime Street Station, which is being renovated. The artwork tells the story of an epic journey that Faithfull made, from Liverpool, UK, to Liverpool, Novia Scotia, mostly by container ship. His initial plan was to sail directly from Liverpool to Montreal, but his container ship, the Joni Ritscher, was diverted to Belgium, so on 9 September 2008, he set off from Lime Street for the south coast and then got the early morning ferry to Antwerp to catch the container ship to Montreal. From Montreal he took the train to Halifax, then hopped on a bus and, three weeks after leaving Lime Street, arrived in Liverpool - a small town of just over 3000 people. Naturally, it was named after its British counterpart and also lies on the banks of a river Mersey. Faithfull did digital drawings on his Palm Pilot on his journey, each with latitude-longitude coordinates. These drawings and coordinates will be engraved in the paving and glass of the new Lime Street concourse so that the viewer has a precise location, which in theory they can go away and explore further should they so wish (although please note that the herring gull perched on a lamppost at N.53°24.30 W.2°59.77 may no longer be there).

You can view some of the images of the journey here:

I’ve written the introduction to the book of Simon’s Liverpool to Liverpool project, which has just been published by Liverpool University Press:

The painting above is ‘Cargo Ship’ by a Yugoslavian artist, Relja Penezic.


  1. Lost was indeed left in random places, but all those places were actually in Whitstable - the work was commissioned by the Whitstable Biennale. The books each had a unique number and could be logged onto a website and then 'lost' again. Many have now gone on multiple journeys around the world.

  2. Thanks for the info Sue.

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