Cue Iconic theme tune.
Hello and welcome to The South Bank Show with me Melvin Bragg. On tonight show we visit The Florence Institute which is holding an exhibition of James Cauty’s The Aftermath Dislocation Principle (ADP) Riot Tour. First up and The Florence Institute known locally as “The Florrie” is a building that is a fine example of late Victorian architecture with delicate use of terracotta, and originally it had splendid interiors, from the great hall to the top lit gym to the library. The Florence Institute was officially opened as a boys club in 1890, four years after the opening of a similar establishment, the Gordon Working Lads Institute in Kirkdale on the other side of the city. However it was the first building in Britain to be specifically constructed as a boys’ youth club. Towards the end of the 1980s, at the depths of the economic slump for Liverpool the funding dried up for the Institute and in 1987 it was sold and its management and the building eventually fell to the Duchy of Lancaster, which is the private property portfolio of the British monarch. The building fell into disrepair and suffered from vandalism and the natural elements. This was compounded when in 1999 there was a major fire which destroyed the roof. In September 2006 campaigners applied for the Grade II listed status of the building to be upgraded to Grade II* which would signify that the building is of exceptional historical interest. In January 2012, the restored building finally re-emerges from the scaffolding and boarding that has hidden the work since it started.
Now onto the ADP Riot Tour which the Florrie was hosting. Housed in a 40ft shipping container The ADP is a monumental post-riot landscape in miniature. This dystopian model village is set somewhere in Bedfordshire, where only the police and media teams remain in an otherwise deserted, wrecked and dislocated land – all in 1:87 scale and viewed through peep holes in the side of the container. OK I can’t go on anymore I am more Billy Bragg than Melvin Bragg. It was tuesday night and I was picking the eldest up from gymnastics on Park Road when I remembered about the ADP Riot tour. It came to my attention as a fan of The KLF and one half James (Jimmy) Cauty was the man behind this piece of artwork. So I told Elizabeth (11) and Charlotte (8) that I was taking them to see a piece of art. I could see their little faces and them thinking oh hang on dads going on one again. When i told them it was a giant container their faces looked even more confused and they were thinking why can’t we just go straight home and bang the TV on.
So we entered The Florrie and what a magnificent building. I remember from the days when I worked in a bookies just up the road on Park Road that The Florrie had near burnt down. Thankfully the building was saved and didn’t go the way of many fine historic Liverpool buildings and get flattened. Many of them caused by our own city council in numerous acts of civic vandalism. So once we got by the container I gave the kids the Brucie bonus. Go and have a look in some of the holes in the side of the container. And its if by magic their faces lit up as they seen the magic of Cauty’s miniature landscape. There was no stopping them as they tried to view the artwork from all the available viewing holes and also they took in what had been put on the actual container itself (See below)
‘Culture” dad had come up with the goods again as we viewed the landscape from several angles going around at least twice. Afterwards a helpful worker at The Florrie advised us upstairs there were some exhibits from local schools so we had a good nose around this great building and ended up in what I think was the main hall. I was just as chuffed being in the building as I was amazed at the miniature landscape. The exhibition was free but I there a fiver in the donation box.
I was that impressed with the display that I went on social media to try and promote it as there was one full day left and even banged the message out on my Liverpool Weather account which has over 10,000 followers so hopefully some people took my advice and went down today to have a look at it. I certainly took advantage and took the wife and youngest Holly (4) who despite not being tall enough to look through any of the holes she got the full tour as I lifted her up to peer in the many small windows and she too was amazed with the display. As was my father in law who is a technology teacher so this was right up his street as well. But the display leaves tomorrow on its UK tour (Leeds next) As if by some strange KLF quirk of fate there was an ice cream van parked by the display this evening. I was waiting for the KLF to appear and Tammy Wynette bang out “All bound for Mu Mu Land” but sadly it was ice creams only (Make mine a 99)
So I brought some culture to the Fay family and the in-laws. The kids even asked if there had ever been riots in Liverpool and I gave them a brief history lesson on the 1919 and 1981 riots. I recall being on holiday in a caravan in 1981 as just a few miles from where we lived part of Liverpool was going up in flames and today I was reminded in long winded way about this as today we had a prime minister leaving to see the queen to retire and it brought memories of a teary eyed Mrs Thatcher leaving number 10 in a car on a dark November night in 1990. I was 17 and the lads had knocked for me to hang around the streets of Aigburth but I said no I was watching the news as I wanted to see Thatcher on her way, my dad had brought me up well. Nearly got through a blog without mentioning the current political upheaval but I will stop short there.
Finally happy birthday blog which is now 7 years old. Many thanks to all who subscribe, comment and read these ramblings. To those who share it on various social media platforms and those who give me great feedback. As I always say I aim to raise a smile then and again and try and not be too serious though that might happen from time to time. Anyway cue iconic closing South Bank Show theme tune and farewell until next Sunday were I will be looking at the impact of Shakespeare on the modern school curriculum and we look at the life of influential saxophone player Stan Getz.
Fay x x x x x x x x (Extra kiss for the 8th year of the blog)
Click on any of the pictures for a larger version