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Installation view
JOHN DAVIES - SAVING CALDERSTONES
01/11/18 - 04/11/18
A large part of Liverpool’s Green Wedge across Beechley, Harthill & Calderstones Park is under threat from a building scheme. Liverpool Open & Green Spaces CIC is challenging plans for these ‘executive homes’ at Manchester High Court on November 5th. In this exhibition at OUTPUT, ‘Saving Calderstones - Trees under Threat,’ artist John Davies is presenting black and white portraits of the trees that will be removed if the development plans go ahead. The images are made in the infrared spectrum to reveal a quality of tree life that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Davies is an active campaigner and a well-known artist in the UK and abroad. Sales from the exhibition will go towards the costs of the Judicial Review to help save Calderstones from development.

[Update: the campaign was successful and the redevelopment on Calderstones was blocked on all counts]
Installation view
Do you think art has the power to intervene in something like the building of executive homes in Liverpool's Green Wedge?

Art can be a stimulating way to effectively communicate ideas. I try to find ways to create graphic images that describe a story of future change. Apart from making documentary photographs I’ve also re-created a number of different maps of Calderstones and the Greenwedge. In these maps I’ve used satellite images that people can more effectively understand that show the context and impact of proposed development plans on our green and open space.

I use different methods to illustrate how future plans may have a negative impact on our environment. I hope to motivate people into being actively involved in changes that will have a direct or indirect impact on our urbanized lives.  In this project I chose to photograph a selection of more than a 100 trees that will be axed if development plans go ahead. Most of us can identify with images of trees - we have some emotional, physical or visual connection with trees that brings us closer to natural environment. I thought images of trees would help stimulate interest in what might be lost if nothing is done to stop a development that will have a substantial negative impact on one of Liverpool’s most popular parks.

What methods have you used to take these images and why?

In 2012 I decided to experiment with recording the landscape in the infrared spectrum and converted my digital camera to only record in infrared. I became interested in the way this method of imaging revealed the dramatic world of vegetation. In particular I became interested in this technique to visually re-represent trees in this ‘un-seen’ vibrant dimension. The chlorophyll in leaves reflects a high degree of the infrared spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye.

As an activist, how do you keep up the fight?

I have spent much of my life working as an artist and documentary photographer recording the changes to our urbanised landscape – observing the world with a detached perspective. Since moving to Liverpool some 15 years ago I became astonished by the amount of green space and parkland that was disappearing under urbanized developments. I then decided to become more proactive and to try to effect some of what I saw as negative changes to our urban landscape and to highlight and celebrate the importance of public green space. I became increasingly active in campaigning to help save public green and open spaces in our local urban environment – joining various active groups for this purpose. This also lead to trying to understand the complex and shifting world of planning policy and how planning decisions are made to sell-off public space. I am still learning how to adopt more effective strategies.
Installation view
Installation view
Installation view