....water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was....Toni Morrison
Updated: Jun 17, 2021
High profile design competitions like the National Museums Liverpool Waterfront Transformation encourage creative collaborations, with only one out of many teams getting to realise their vision.
It was a privilege to shape ideas within a diverse team, and whilst we are one of the many that depart the competition at an early stage, there was some inspired thinking along the way.
I take away a better understanding of the compelling story to be told and share this pen portrait that captures its cosmological quality.
As a bird flies, it is 10 nautical miles from Liverpool’s Canning Dock to Formby Point, at the northerly seaward end of the Outer Mersey estuary. Footprint trails extending 4km off-shore trace barefooted adults and children visiting the marine environment, to forage, fowl, hunt and fish 7,000 years ago.
The route crosses Crosby Sands, where Anthony Gormley’s Another Place vividly blurs spatial and temporal boundaries. An elegy to untold and unseen seaward gazes to imagined places beyond the horizon, it depicts the human form unflinched by the daily rhythm of the tides.
This fluid and timeless quality of the estuary blends the natural and the creative - dissolves boundaries an fires imagination to reveal both nature and the human condition. Those first innocent footprints encapsulate an essential and emotional cultural relationship with water that later attracted enslaved people across the Atlantic to hidden sanctuaries to celebrate their African heritage and to fashion a new identity.
These wetland ‘hush harbours’ provide an archetypal template for places that provide:
· an open and safe dialogue across sensitive and troubled narratives framing the histories, geographies and cultures of the Atlantic trade
· inclusive creative expressions of identity and representation, unhindered by a single dominant authorised narrative and without imposed attachment to a fixed ‘historic’ provenance of aesthetics or fashionable matters of 'taste'
· adds potency to the curated experience provided by a maritime hub and cultural institutions that celebrate Liverpool as a global city - shining a light from a Liverpudlian perspective on historic and contemporary racial, environmental and social justice.