Kicking off OUTPUT’s 2022/23 Arts Council-funded
programme is a solo exhibition by Ciarán
a Liverpool-born artist who works primarily with video, using
historical and personal footage to interrogate the purpose and function
of recording events.
His film ‘Echo in Time’ - which can be viewed below - sees the artist utilise
footage shot by his Father (photographer Tom Wood) in Cooper's Town
House in Liverpool in the early 2000s. This busy, karaoke-centric
city-centre pub (previously known as the Sefton) sits on Cases Street,
in an area with historical links to the slave trade, which has seen
extensive redevelopment since the 1960s.
The film resonates
strongly in the current era, showing a close-knit local community which
finds joy and familiarity in regular gatherings, imbuing the physical
space of the pub with an overwhelming sense of personality and the
ability to unite disparate groups in camaraderie and song. In exploring
the social and architectural history of this area, Wood reveals
universal truths about the marginalisation of working class spaces and
culture in contemporary Britain. ‘Echo in Time’ is warm, nostalgic and
honest; a must-see for Liverpool residents who have lived through the
urban and social upheaval depicted in the film.
film features excerpts of poetry by Kev Kharas & Ciaran Wood, Jude
Tom Calderbank. A poster for the film, depicting the Coopers frontage,
has been painted by Jack Fawdry Tatham. A second screen is showing a
performance by Tommy Calderbank of his poem 'Selling out the Singing City'
you describe your time in Liverpool, and how it has impacted your
practice / identity as an artist? Does Liverpool play a role in your
wider practice beyond the ‘Echo in Time’ project?
up over the water in New Brighton. Liverpool has always loomed large in
my subconscious, even more permanently since I left. In recent years
has seeped into my practice. I guess generally I am just interested in
where I’m from. My artistic practice has persistently returned to
questions of location, extimate biography, and the intimacy of
geopolitical feeling. For me that’s Liverpool and Ireland, where a lot
of my family are from.
What was the original purpose of your Dad shooting this footage?
He’s a photographer (tomwoodarchive.com)
who documented Liverpool and Merseyside for many many years. I think
Coopers the pub interested him - the people, some of whom he already
knew from around the city. I think he had planned to film in there
longer, but didn’t do much more than a few weekends over a couple of
in moving image, are you more influenced by fine art video work or the
vast amount of video content we see in the rest of our lives - news /
streaming / films & TV? Were there any specific major influences on
I’d like to say I’m more influenced by fine art video/moving image, but not 100%.
so much any TV or news influences but there’s certain aspects of music
videos, and general “content” you find on YouTube and other platforms
that has seeped in to the way I work. Barrabackslarrabang by Imogen
Stidworthy was a contextual influence, but not a stylistic one. In it
she filmed people in two Liverpool pubs speaking back slang, hence the
title. When I first started working with my dad’s footage I almost had
to separate the sound from the visual - the pub was so loud, songs so
catchy, a lot of my edit decisions were too easily influenced at first.
Evidence of Things Unseen But Heard by Louis Henderson was something I
had seen whilst sifting through footage too.
You started work on Echo in Time during the pandemic - how did this influence the work?
all these people, a community, alive inside Coopers, through a
pandemic, 20 years in the future… was all I needed really to get going!
It was the togetherness. It is what we (I) needed at that time, what we
had taken away from us, and what was longed for by many I’m sure. It
felt like an alternate universe full of smoke, patterns, karaoke and
swirling round the room. So that was the entry point. When I started
working on the structure of the film it became less influential, as I
went into the geography and history of the area, and the position of
Coopers inside Liverpool City Centre.
It was difficult working
through the footage and editing without being able to visit the pub, or
even walk around Liverpool. I spent all lockdowns in Hastings, and
travelled up to Liverpool for a couple of weeks during the Tier 3
(experiment?) in January 2021. By this point I had made most of the
skeleton of the film, and wanted to film inside the empty pub. It was
so strange being inside this empty cultural space.
in Time has been exhibited in Blackpool and Brighton previously - what
kind of feedback did you receive on the work? Has anyone from the
footage seen the film?
a huge thank you to Grundy Art Gallery for supporting the production of
the work over the pandemic, and first exhibiting it. It got a great
reception in Blackpool, sadly due to Covid there wasn’t a proper
opening and it was sporadic and open in and out of lockdowns. I think
some people have seen the film, but I imagine a lot more from the
footage will see themselves or people they know now that it is showing
in Liverpool. At Brighton it was shown in a slightly different context
as part of a public programme, looking at infrastructures, communities
and trade. [I sent you the PDF, can be linked?]
What is next for you as an artist?
going to be working with more of my dad’s footage; And separately I’m
working on a film based in Ireland at the moment, addressing factors of
sentimentality and the formation of nostalgia - Irishness, Englishness,
but all tangled up in my family history and their exile from Ireland.
SELLING OUT THE SINGING CITY BY TOMMY CALDERBANK
There are places I remember Like the corners of my mind Misty water-coloured way-we-weres Captured space and time Tom’s lens came to Ada Cooper’s Following his crowd A haven from the cold Inviting light and sound Relief from the rigours Home away from home All chitterchatter bustling, jostling Cosy, friendly, warm Filled with characters larger Than life itself, stars that might have been Still alive inside an echo, echo, echo The room too small to hold their dreams
Pathologically friendly, this lot Talk to anyone, whether they want to or not The Unconscious Carpet beneath their feet Soaks up the dancesteps and many pints spilt The memory of all in the fabric’s weaveworld Its crazy patterns are lysergic cobbles vibrating Trip to the loo, my darling And beneath the carpet, the beach…. Here, its always time to cut a rug Some cuts are rough, And may not make the final film Ending up on the cutting room floor Where all the dancers meet Two left feet or no feet left Duzzenmarrer Just dance, will yer…
Transforming the everyday with booze fuelled magic Adding to their lives a layer of glamour They grab the mic like there’s no tomorrow Karaoke democracy! Good old fellas and goodtime girls trade tunes Belted out or gently crooned (If you look hard enough, you can see their souls when they do) ….Be my, be my baby…. …All you wanna do is ride around Sally… …How would you like to be, down by the Seine with me….? …Fate. Up against your will… …It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing… …They had dreams and songs to sing…
Dockers imagine themselves on Top of the Pops Milkmen playing the Albert Hall Office girls smashing it at Wembley Locksmiths headlining Glasto Singing songs in the key of Yale Churches swerved on a Sunday Swapping priests for barmaids Crisps for wafers Collection plates for overflowing ashtrays Pints for communion wine Old couples still holding hands after all this time Singing The People’s Hymns They congregate to elevate through secular song “And now, a reading from the book of Our Gerry…”
So before last orders are called on such things Let’s look at why the caged bird sings Y’see These aren’t the folk who killed Clayton Square Or made entire districts disappear These crimes committed by sharp-suited men Who made it all come tumbling down, again and again These are the survivors of mass demolitions Whose suspicions we’re ruled by fools proved true Let’s celebrate these places, these faces we knew These people deserve poetry and song Their desire restless, relentless, strong See the magic in their mundane The epic in their everyday This portrait of a people in their public home Who lived and loved life to the bone.