Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Liverpool Suitcases

A recent post about a public sculpture in Dun Laoghaire reminded me that Liverpool has a large number of public sculptures. Above is one of the most original of them, situated half way up Hope Street. The sculpture A Case History (1998) was designed by sculptor John King and it shows 27 suitcases and bags in concrete - all have luggage tags with the names of famous people who had some connection with the city and the area.

These include McCartney, Lennon and Harrison and also Stuart Sutcliffe, an early member of the Beatles, but also comedian Arthur Askey, author Charles Dickens and conductor Malcolm Sargent. One of the "cases" is a package from the publishers Faber addressed to the Liverpool Poets: Adrian Henri (1932-2000), Roger McGough (b.1937) and Brian Patten (b.1946).

A noticeboard alongside this public art installation has a numbered diagram giving information about the people to whom the suitcases and packages 'belong'. More details here.

I thought of the suitcases at Auschwitz piled high on display. Maybe the artist wanted us to make the connection. I also thought of the large number of immigrants from Ireland who arrived in Liverpool in the past, some to stay, some to move on to America. Again this may be an intended reference. Suitcases can mean so many different things - from emigration to holidays - that they are very powerful symbols. But is it art?

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