Page 1

MNL

THIS WEEK ARTS

LIFE

Mersey News Live FROM THE HEART OF THE CITY

Powered by LJMU journalists 27 OCTOBER 2021

NEW WORKS IN PLACE TO IMPROVE NEW BRIGHTON

TEACHER UP FOR $1M GLOBAL AWARD

HOW MARATHON ROCKED THE CITY

ARTIST KAT’S PICTURE PERFECT PERFORMANCE


> New Brighton, new developments: p6


MNL MNL

CONTENTS 6

THIS WEEK

4&5

4&5 The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 6 Breathing life into New Brighton 7 Teacher’s chance of winning $1m 8 Will night buses keep women safe? 9 Feed your mind 10&11 Student’s bedroom business

9 14&15

LIFE & ARTS 13 14&15 16 17 18&19

7

Kill a Rose review Kat Hughes - portrait artist Rediscovering classical music Wirral DJ gets Manchester dancing

13

Uprisings ‘81 Commemoration

17

W

e’re kicking off this spooky week with the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in the streets of Liverpool over the weekend. Reporter Sophie Moore found out about a Liverpool teacher who works with visually impaired children in with the chance of winning a $1m dollar prize at the Global Teaching awards. Find out about Liverpool’s Kat Hughes entering the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, and check out a review by Harry Hughes of a Wirral DJ.

Give ‘em pumpkin to talk about! Ella Williams reports on a former LJMU student who has set up her own fashion business from her bedroom, while Amna Akram visits Unity Theatre to see a play which draws attention on domestic abuse within transgender communities. Ellie Rochell discovers classical music at her visit to the Philharmonic Hall, which was not her typical venue for an evening! We end this week’s issue with an article

3

from Jack McGahan about the 1981 Toxteth uprising - an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool welcomed activists, writers, artists, politician leaders of the Black Power Movement to discuss the origins, key events and the aftermath of the uprising in the early ‘80s. Have a fang-tastic Halloween! Sophia Smith, Lifestyle Reporter


THIS WEEK

MNL

THIS WEEK

Rockin ‘n’ Runin’ through

T

by AILIS FINN-LOOBY he Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon returned to Liverpool last weekend after a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, where participants of all abilities raced through the city. The race takes runners on a tour of Liverpool waterfront and city centre. Taking them past the Liver Building, The Cavern Club, Anfield stadium, Penny lane, Sefton park and the Chinese arch before the last stretch home on the promenade alongside the River Mersey, with lots of great music along the way. Matthew Crehan was the overall marathon winner (02:26:38) and female winner was Louise Balloch (03:03:14), in the half marathon race, Kieran Walker won for the men with a time of 01:08:09 and for the women in was Emma Styles with a time of 01:16:22. The organisation team reported that ‘over 10,00 eager Rock ‘n’ Rollers ages 3 to 77 took on the flat and fast course through streets lined with supporters, local bands and entertainment from start to finish.’

H

aydn Carter, a 21 year student at LJMU, like many others started to exercise more regularly during the first lockdown way back in March 2020, when we all had a lot more free time. This brief window brought a major shift in peoples behaviour and attitude to exercise. Figures showed that last year the ‘Couch to 5k’ app downloads skyrocketed from March till the end of June in 2020. With nearly one million downloads, compared to 448,000 during the same time in 2019 – a 92% increase. Setting goals for ourselves and having something to focus on at that time was so important, and that’s exactly what Haydn did. He said: “I chose to do the half marathon because during the first lockdown I started running often as there was nothing else to do, I signed up back then as I wanted to push myself when I got back to Liverpool and as a motivation to keep running. “Obviously, a lot has happened since the first lockdown and making concrete plans was not possible so were usually forgotten or changed, this was also the case for Haydn, ‘I actually forgot I signed up for it as it should have been last year but it got rolled over to this year. I got an email four days before the even as a reminder to collect my t-shirt and bib number.” Despite a very short time to preparer for the marathon, Haydn still managed to compete it. “I had done no training however I manage a time of two hours 10 minutes, which I’m actually really happy with! “The hardest part I found was the mental aspect of it, looking up and seeing you still have five miles left but to keep on going. We had perfect weather, good atmosphere, and it was really well organised with frequent water stations.”

Haydn Carter

The hardest part I found was the mental aspect of it, looking up and seeing you still have five miles left

4


MNL

THIS WEEK

THIS WEEK

the streets of Liverpool The musically themed race ends with a festival and headline concert outside the M&S Bank arena in celebration of the day’s achievements. This year the headline acts were Ali Horn, The Twenty two, DJ Dave Monks, Up all night, Hushtones and Made in Liverpool. Unfortunately, this is the last Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon to be held in Liverpool. The Ironman Group, who host a large number of global sporting events, announced that that the Liverpool marathon would be its last and will not be taking place in 2022 and beyond. Originally landing in Liverpool in 2014, it has been an annual fixture in the UK Athletics and Liverpool event calendar for the last seven years. With the global music history status that Liverpool has, the Ironman group said that it has been ‘the perfect destination’ to hold the the Rock ‘n’ Roll series brand. In a recent post on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Facebook page, they said: “It’s been an incredible 7 years but the curtain has closed on the final show! Keep rock ‘n’ and Rollin’ on!”

Winner M atthwe Cre han

I wanted to push myself when I got back to Liverpool

5


THIS WEEK

MNL

THIS WEEK

Historic resort benefits from breath of fresh air LUKE POLLITT talks you through the exciting new area changing the face of modern New Brighton

O

ver the last few years, a particular area of New Brighton has soared in popularity and investment. Its being called the Victorian Quarter and is based around Victoria Road. The latest cog in the machine to be developed is the Anti-Super-Supermarket. The former Budgens supermarket has been gutted, to leave in it’s a place a brand-new, local market, gig area and community hub. Prior to being worked on, the building stood as a reminder of the state the area used to be, broken windows and bleak walls now filled with local art on a building filled with promise. Pauline Johnson, 79, has lived around New Brighton and Victoria Road all her life, she told MNL: “It’s such an improvement, the old supermarket was just an eyesore for everybody, now it not only looks new but is always being used for locals.” The group behind the project are Rockpoint Leisure. On their website they describe themselves as a private-sector development and regeneration company, boasting an impressive portfolio of hospitality and retail brands, within each market sector. And oversee the development. Local bus driver David Williamson, 39, told MNL: “It’s really gave the area a breath of fresh air. Even the locals walking around seem to be happier because of it.” The team pride themselves on building from the ground up. Rather

Rockpoint Records - Dazzling art and drinks at the heart of the Victorian Quarter Photos: Luke Pollitt than buy up all the property in the area and regenerate that way, Rockpoint have worked with local shopkeepers to ensure that local business is at the forefront. Helping community shops reach a new market. They did however focus on making use of the disused buildings in and around Victoria Road. Aside from the rejuvenated supermarket, Rockpoint also have also spearheaded several other projects. One which got national attention during the pandemic was traditional style pub, The James Atherton. Following the debacle of Covid contracts and lockdowns, the owners decided to rename their fine establishment. Firstly, they chose ‘The Three Be**ends’ featuring a picture

of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the infamous adviser Dominic Cummings. It then morphed into ‘The Two Helmets’. The whole idea came after the area was thrown into a tier three, local lockdown when - despite pubs opening around the country - they were left closed and unable to trade. In previous years the area had been left in disrepair, the local businesses were left in limbo. David Williams, 46, said: “I’m surprised a lot of places survived, ever since Morrison’s and all the other big names opened up on the prom, the number of people shopping here fell like nothing else.” It’s plain to see the life that now exists around the Victorian Quarter, not only with people visiting the new and exciting

1 2 3 4

Walking round here in the last few years started to feel scary

projects, but also those grassroots, local shops. Some of the people I spoke to felt that the around Victoria Road had now become a lot safer with the regeneration. Steven Davidson, 26, said: “It’s definitely been needed. Walking round here in the last few years started to feel scary. That’s all changed now.” Like anywhere, it’s not perfect. To try and help this, when starting out on the Victorian Quarter, Rockpoint leisure enlisted the help of local kids and teenagers to help with painting and litter-picking the area. They said this was done not only to keep the kids busy but also give them a sense of pride in their work. Which shows that the project is focused on helping the area and improving the lives of local people.

Unmissable! Four top spots

Rockpoint Records. An exciting venue housing not just a record shop, but a trendy bar and cafe. Hosting an open-mic night each week for local bands. The Anti-super-supermarket. As previously mentioned, this former Budgens is the area’s brand new community hub with gig area and local market. The James Atherton/The Two Helmets. The traditional style pub is not only nationally famous but extremely warm and welcoming. The Bow Legged Beagle. Home to a massive variety of craft beers, this bar is not one to miss for those who crave niche nectar

The Two Helmets pub - caught national attention in Lockdown

6


MNL

THIS WEEK

THIS WEEK

‘Overwhelmed and proud’ at global teaching nomination A Liverpool teacher who works with visually impaired children is in the final of the Global Teaching Prize with a $1m award. By SOPHIE MOORE

A

Liverpool teacher has made it through to the final 10 shortlist after 8000 nominations from 121

countries. The deputy principal at St Vincent’s school, Liverpool, West Derby, studied a BA in Secondary Physical Education at Liverpool John Moores University. The global teaching prize is an annual US award by the Varkey Foundation given to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. The awards are into their seventh year, and seeks to acknowledge not only the impacts of the very best teachers on their students but on the communities around them. St Vincent’s school, Liverpool, which is a specialist school for children with sensory impairment and other needs, say they are exceptionally proud of Mr Swanston. A spokesperson from the school Told Mersey News Live: “We want to wish

Mr Swanston the best of luck in the global teaching awards, he is already a winner in our eyes.” “We are all exceptionally proud of not just what Mr Swanston achieved, but all that the school has achieved.” Miss Ellison, a teacher at St Vincent’s school Liverpool said: “We are all so privileged to work every day with Mr Swanston, he has done so much work for the children at St Vincent’s and also other visually impaired pupils around the world.” David Swanston told ITV news that the shortlist was an achievement for the school not just himself. “I am overwhelmed, excited and proud but this is about our school and our community, this is about St Vincent’s.” “This is about the work that we’ve done for a number of years, across the Liverpool City Region and globally, so this isn’t just solely myself this has been a real team effort.” Last year, Mr Swanston was a gold winner in the Pearson National Teaching Awards for excellence in special needs education. David Swanston has been helping

David Swanston, who works at St Vincent’s school in Liverpool, has been helping pupils with visual impairments © PA

I am overwhelmed, excited and proud but this is about our school and our community, this is about St Vincent’s.

pupils with visual impairments for over a decade. He has led multiple projects to support students, parents, teachers and support staff to assist their awareness and knowledge of education and visual impairment. Recently he has been focusing on making sports more accessible. Mr Swanston is currently working on the development of rugby specifically for blind and partially sighted children, by creating ball prototypes and modelling game play, working alongside Liverpool John Moores University.

P

rime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted about David’s shortlist and said: “Huge congratulations to David Swanston on being shortlisted for the Global teacher Prize. “There can be no great schools without great teachers, and Mr Swanston’s dedication to his pupils serves as an inspiration to all.” Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I know just how much

Global Teaching Prize founded by Varkey Foundation, Logo 7

teachers can transform lives and I am thrilled to congratulate David on thisrecognition for his inspirational work. “I am incredibly grateful to him for his innovation in supporting children and young people with visual impairments, helping to ensure that they thrive at school, including through sport.” If Mr Swanston wins the $1 million prize, he pledges to put the prize money towards more innovations towards sport for the visually impaired and a well-being programme at Alder Hey children’s hospital. He will also use the funds to support his charity, Sight box, which aims to improve access to adapted sport for visually impaired students in developing countries. The other nine finalist of the Global teaching prize teach in Argentina, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Ghana, France, America, Australia and Iran. The overall winner will be announced in Paris on November 10.


LIFE

MNL

LIFE

Will the return of the night bus help keep women safe? MNL OPINION GABBY BERGONZI on the possible return of the night bus and how it will affect women’s safety

W

e are all too familiar with the Sarah Everard case in which she was kidnapped, raped, and murdered all on a short walk home from a friend’s house. We all know the case of Sabina Nessa, who was repeatedly struck with a two-footlong weapon and killed on her way to a date. These cases of violence against women are becoming depressingly familiar and we want to be sure we can get home without fearing for our lives. Since the start of the pandemic, bus operator Stagecoach suspended their night bus, which ran from Liverpool City Centre to Speke, via the Smithdown area which is full of students and young people. With three big universities in Liverpool, 24-hour access to public transport is a necessity. Even since the UK has opened back up, the service has not been resumed. I couldn’t count on one hand the

number of times I’ve heard stories of women feeling uncomfortable in taxis – drivers making perverted comments and taking advantage of drunk girls. It has caused anger from women at how we can’t get in a taxi without fear of being leered at or worse, whether we will make it home. Many women on social media have come forward and reported stories of being sexually assaulted by taxi drivers after nights out, girls getting dropped off a few doors down from their actual address just to make sure the driver doesn’t see where they are going into, women being locked in taxis and refused to be let out unless they give them their numbers. Drivers targeting vulnerable young girls after they’ve had a drink is disgusting and as women, we should be able to trust that they’ll take us home safely. A petition has now been launched calling for the reinstatement of the 86 bus, which runs 24 hours. It has already received the target of 5000

Liverpool 86 service signatures, many them being students and females. We want to prevent these sexual attacks happening and keep women safe at night on their way home. It really is worrying seeing and hearing about women being attacked in taxis. It’s not just black cabs either, it happens in private hire taxis too. Last month a young woman was

“Women being locked in taxis and refused to be let out unless they give them their numbers”

Women enjoying drinks

Inside a black cab at night

Photo: Gabby Bergonzi

8

Photo: Unsplash.com sexually assaulted by the driver of a private hire taxi as she was sat in the front seat. It feels like we can’t trust anyone. We should be able to go out and enjoy ourselves and not lave that worry in the back of our minds. The important question is: Will the return of the night bus help keep us women safe? Being able to jump on the bus home will prevent us women being victims of sexual assault in taxis, as well as on the streets whilst we wait up to half an hour for a cab. I believe the reinstatement of night buses will improve the safety of women and provide us with a peace of mind. London has recently reinstated the night tube in an effort to create a safer environment for everyone living in the city and I believe Liverpool should follow suit and join them.

Photo: Gabby Bergonzi


MNL

LIFE

LIFE

Dock provides food for thought An enticing campaign has been launched at the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, allowing visitors of the waterfront to stimulate their cultural senses, CATRIN JONES reports

T

hey say a delicious, nutritious meal is good for the soul - but how about feeding your mind? That’s the challenge Royal Albert Dock have set for themselves as they launch their ‘Feed Your Mind’ campaign. This autumn, visitors to Liverpool will experience a series of events including masterclasses and tasters, as well as the chance to showcase their Salsa dancing skills. Sounds delicious? The campaign runs until November 7, with each event aimed to ‘Feed Your Mind’. Alexandra Goldsmith, PR account manager for Royal Albert Dock, told MNL how the campaign came about. “The inspiration behind it is to give visitors new experiences, learn new skills and try new flavours at the dock.” The iconic waterfront is home to an impressive range of bars, restaurants, and attractions that all offer you the experience to bring out your creative side. Visit Revolucion de Cuba, the Cuban-themed restaurant of the iconic dock, for a go at Salsa dancing, explore the realm of ancient Japan with Escape Hunt’s enchanting Fourth Samurai game, or venture down to One O’clock Gun on the weekends to hear some of the city’s local talents live. Or event better, why not try them all! The Dock is home to a collection of exotic flavours, each to be savoured through the masterclasses of the campaign. Whether you are an expert or amateur, Royal Albert Dock welcomes you. If your knowledge and expertise

on spirits is questionable, a gin masterclass at Turncoat’s Gin Experience will be sure to help you out. With a private tasting of 5 samples of gin on the cards, including their infamous Albert Dock gin, it is an experience that can’t be missed. If you rather swap your elegant gin for a seductive rum, however, head to Smugglers Cove to try some of the smoothest rums in the world. Lunyalita, a Spanish and British fusion restaurant, are also contributing their flavours to the campaign, with a tasting event tomorrow. The taster will offer visitors the opportunity to experience the finest cheeses and wines of Spain, accompanied with appetisers of Lunyalita’s deli. From the truly captivating tales of Liverpudlian sailors to the insightful stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo, the city of Liverpool has much to offer. With a wide variety of museums and exhibitions, spending the day soaking up the culture should be no difficult task. Merseyside Maritime Museum currently hold a ‘Life on Board’ exhibition which takes you on a journey to learn about the city’s seafarers and passengers, and a trip to the Beatles Story is a chance to gain insight of the revolutionary Fab4. Also in the mix is an Arts exhibition at Tate Liverpool, presenting renowned portraits by Lucian Freud- a first of its kind in the Northwest for 30 years! The Royal Albert Dock has housed many cultural events and entertainment, with ‘Feed Your Mind’ the most recent addition yet. So, rather than bite the hand that feeds you, why not head down to the Dock and let your mind be fed.

Revolutionary: Cavern replica at the Beatles Story Credit: Royal Albert Dock

Local talent: Live music at One o’Clock Gun Credit: Royal Albert Dock

9

Artsy: Tate Liverpool Lucy McKenzie Credit: Royal Albert Dock


LIFE

LIFE

MNL

FASHION BUSINESS IS JUST SEW FOR MEGAN

A

If there’s a problem, a YouTube video will always help

former Liverpool John Moores student has moved from classroom to practice in fashion designing. Popular Liverpool clothing brand, Ruiter, has gained a big Instagram following. It now has more than 15,900 followers. Megan Ruiter, 22, from Birkenhead, Wirral, has been creating bespoke clothes for celebrities, from Love Island and The Only Way is Essex. She recently finished a 4-year University course at Liverpool John Moores, studying fashion design. She then set up her own fashion brand. The former student took textiles at GCSE and at A Level and has loved fashion ever since she picked up her first needle and thread. Megan started sewing aged seven by making clothes for herself to wear to school and for her Bratz dolls. She can sew and make a full dress within a record time of two hours and

is highly praised. Since finishing University, business has really soared for Ruiter owner, Megan, as she has had the opportunity to work with celebrities such as Gabby Allen and Georgia Steel from Love Island and some Instagram influencers. Megan has recently just released her “A/ W21 collection”. Whilst having her own clothing brand, she has not only been able to make women feel glamorous and trendy. But has been able to develop her own style following custom orders from various

buyers. Most custom orders require face to face fittings, it can sometimes take 1-3 fittings, that need to be scheduled, depending on the design. If people live further afield, Megan is based on the Wirral, and will ask for a list of measurements from you. She can even schedule facetime calls if help is required when taking measurements. Whilst picking everything up from YouTube videos, she said: “If there’s a problem, a YouTube video will always help”. Even in everyday life, other girls might wonder what she

10

is looking at on a night out, but she is just looking for inspiration on designs. Spotting girls on nights out in her brand is a “surreal” experience, says Megan. “I have been going to Glastonbury Festival since I was six-years-old with my family, so I get a lot of inspiration from festivals too.” She said: “I was going through a bit of a rough patch due to some side effects from medication I was taking so I was feeling quite low.” Megan sent out sewing packs with fabric in them and invited them to an Instagram page where she uploaded videos of herself teaching her clients how to make a sarong. “It particularly effects young girls my age, so through the pandemic I sent out sewing packs and taught girls how to sew and make a top”. An upcoming fashion event is being hosted at the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool on November 25, at 7pm, for the brand itself. Ruiter cele-


LIFE

LIFE

MNL

Ruiter taxi around Liverpool

‘I hope to get to the position to hire someone in the future, it can get pretty stressful at times’ ABOVE: Friends supportig Megan Ruiter at an event. BELOW: Megan’s friends all wearing her bespoke dresss brates ‘all things Christmas, Winter Wonderland’ and glam with a series of bespoke garments perfect for the festive season. On the night join they have a fashion show with live entertainment including: Beats by Tom, Jonny Sax, DJ’s, Live Dancers and a chance to win fashion goodies and exclusive deals. When speaking to owner, Megan, she said: “Making clothes is what made me happy so I started to upload pictures onto my Instagram page of the things I was making and then people started messaging me asking if I could alter things for them at first and then it was people asking me to make dresses and tops.” Megan explained who she would dream of designing an outfit for: “Molly Mae would be number 1”. She said: “I am quite ambitious and I would love to see myself with a warehouse and a team within the next five years.” She hopes to expand Ruiter and move from her house extension, to open her own studio with a team of skilled designers. Where she can continue creating clothing and doing what she loves.

11


ALL NEWS ALL THE TIME

Mersey News Live is your one-stop shop for news, features and opinion from Liverpool and beyond!

Featuring live news, videos and podcasts for all your Mersey News needs

POWERED BY LJMU JOURNALISTS

www.merseynewslive.co.uk


MNL Shining a spotlight on domestic abuse within transgender relationships

ARTS

ARTS

AMNA AKRAM went along to Unity Theatre to watch a play raising awareness on issues within the LGBTQI+ community staged as part of the Open Call programme

T

ranscend Theatre’s queer empowering How To kill A Rose draws attention on domestic abuse within transgender communities, an issue which needs to be spoken about more often. There are themes of domestic abuse, drug use, explicit language, and sexual references. The show is presented with subtitles and has BSL interpretations throughout to make the message accessible to a wider audience. The performance makes you appalled at the subtle signs of abuse that go unnoticed in our daily lives, but in turn it provides a sense of hope that things do get better. The thought-provoking play follows the journey of the relationship between ‘Me’ (Felix Mufti) a gullible and naive, 16-year-old who is madly in love with ‘Him’ (Tony Fox) a 23-year-old. Their relationship starts off all jolly and ecstatic depicting that it’s too good to be true. Spending majority of their time in the house smoking weed, watching TV together and having humorous conversations with a scouse touch referencing to the comparison between the quality of B&M and Netto products, whilst simultaneously putting an emphasis on the age gap. In the beginning phase of the play ‘Him’ gifts ‘Me’ a red rose on Valentine’s day, to show how much he ‘cares’ about their relationship. It is to be noted that the rose petal plays a significant part throughout the performance as it’s always hanging above them. Going back to ‘Me’, when he receives the rose it displays his innocence and youth, as a small act like this causes to get infatuated with ‘Him’ in an unhealthy obsessive manner being head over heels. As time passes by, unpleasant

traits of ‘Him’ start to come out to the surface. Fox’s constant possessiveness, gaslighting and controlling through sex (physical abuse is not performed) starts to get stronger, and eventually has detrimental negative effects on the mental health of ‘Me’. He becomes depressed and doesn’t have many interests left compared to when he was younger: “Brain starting to rot of weed”. On the other hand, ‘Him’ doesn’t seem to notice the change in their significant other since he is too engrossed on smoking weed all the time and has no creativity or ambition left. There is a mixture of spoken word poetry, dialogue and music which brings the story truly alive. They are performed by Felix Wright in short moments throughout the show where he looks straight into the audience with eyes screaming for help describing how ‘Me’ feels in the relationship over time: “You’re filling with fire as I’m filling with dread” under a divine-coloured light making it an intimate experience. All in all, the show was a delight to watch at the Unity Theatre, giving a fresh new outlook to a topic that is underrepresented within the LGBTQI+ community and has not been covered near enough in Liverpool. The 45-minute run doesn’t give the piece justice, as I amongst many others in the crowd were captivated with laughter at times, and in sadness the next minute of the psychological abuse that ‘Me’ suffered. In the end hope and resilience conquered. The play will be available to watch online from Friday 12-Sunday 14 November for anyone that couldn’t attend the performance. Tickets are available to book through the Unity website.

  

13

Mersey News Live spoke exclusively to co-founder Felix Mufti Wright “Transcend Theatre came about by three people meeting who all saw the same problem in our industry. A lack of opportunities for queer people, especially trans people, to tell their stories authentically- without cis people’s opinions and consent. “I watched so many fictional productions and realised that none could be as impactful to me as people’s real life stories. I wanted to bring them on to the stage. “I wanted to create characters queer people would feel comfortable playing. I wanted to empower our queer creatives and make sure they are cherised in theatre. “Ailis and Ty were as equally passionate about these values so we formed Transcend and have been achieving all our goals since we started.”


MNL

ARTS

Kat Hughes Semi-finalist Self Portraot Photo: Kat Hughes

ARTS

PAINT NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

Semi-finalist Kat Hughes talks to SOPHIA SMITH after winning the first heat at Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

L

iverpool-born artist Kat Hughes has put herself firmly in the frame for a life-changing £10,000 commission after making it into the semi-finals of a nation-wide art competition. Portrait Artist of the Year returns to our screens this Autumn for Series 8 on Sky Arts. Stephen Mangan and Joan Bakewell are back in their quest to find Britain and Ireland’s best portrait artists. They’re joined by returning judges: artist Tai Shan Schierenberg, independent curator Kathleen Soriano and art historian Kate Bryan. Thousands applied to be part of the show’s eighth series, and the best will compete over the course of eight heats, showing their talent by capturing the likeness of a variety of celebrity subjects. The winner of the first episode was Liverpool born Kat Hughes for her very distinctive portrait of Jacob Fortune-Lloyd and her self-portrait. “I didn’t expect it at all; I struggle with a lot of impostor syndrome and it was so intimidating being in a room with so many incredible professionals, especially with everyone’s application paintings hanging on the back wall. I felt very out of my depth so I was really proud of myself and felt very validated when I got through!” The film student will now go up

against seven other artists to paint Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason. Kat told MLN, “It was terrifying and exciting experience in equal measures; as a film student it was so cool to see how these shows work behind the scenes, but despite all the crew and other contestants being lovely it was also very daunting to be in front of the camera. Given that she took 40 hours to complete her self portrait, Kat whipped up the portrait of Jacob Fortune-Lloyd in a mere four hours. “It was a huge challenge. Usually I pore over my paintings for weeks and weeks trying to perfect all the tiny details, which obviously I couldn’t do on the day. “I decided to just try and have fun with it and make the most of the opportunity, and it clearly paid off! Jacob was great and so friendly in person. I loved Queen’s Gambit so I was a bit familiar with his work. “We had a great bit of banter throughout the day, and he even stuck around until the end to congratulate me.” The show was filmed in April 2021 with one day of filming per episode. Kat was supposed to be on the show a year prior but it was postponed because of Covid. “It gave me a bit more time to practice painting! The fact that I got shortlisted out of thousands of professional artists was such an honour.”

Kat Hughes Art

14


MNL

Photo: Kat Hughes

The show is filmed at Battersea Arts Centre, and each series the finals are filmed at the National Portrait Gallery. Kat had to travel down to London for the filming of the show, but time after the pandemic meant that she had to go solo. “Pre-Covid contestants would be allowed to bring friends and family along with them, but this time we were only allowed to go on our own. In the first heat I had to sleep on my friend’s floor who is studying in London, but after that my travel and hotel expenses were covered by Sky Arts which felt very fancy. I think it was just for a couple nights, and each episode was filmed about a week apart.”

ARTS

Kat’s mum is a huge fan the show as she watches every season and persuaded Kat to apply, and she never expected in a million years to be accepted for the competition. She grew up being taken to art galleries and painting as her family is very artistic.

Kat’s Paintings

I MISS THE SCOUSE PEOPLE, THAT SOUL YOU CAN’T FIND ANYWHERE ELSE

“My mum and sister in particular are both very creative. It always helps to have someone you can ask for help and to borrow materials from.” Kat juggles her painting in between studying Filmmaking at Leeds Beckett and her job as a receptionist at a darts bar and restaurant.

“Fitting in time is really challenging; I usually have to commute an hour each way to and from town, and working in hospitality means finishing shifts at midnight. “Obviously right now university is my priority, seeing as that’s what I’m in Leeds to do, but I really wish I had more time to spend on painting.” Kat is from Waterloo in Liverpool and says her family have been born and bred in Merseyside. “The biggest thing I miss about Liverpool is being so close to the beach.

G

Kat’s Self Portrait and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd Portrait photo: Kat Hughes

oing on a walk down Crosby beach is the perfect thing to clear my head, and find some inspiration in nature. “I also miss the Scouse people; that soul you can’t find anywhere else in the world and my two cats.” The fisheye theme of Kat’s paintings came from her A-Level final project, which was based around the theme of ‘scale’. “I had a fisheye phone lense lying around and I thought it’d be fun to make these really grotesque, ugly portraits to contrast the conventionally pretty selfies everyone else was painting. “It also really helped with my confidence, because in that format there’s nowhere to hide your flaws; I was painting bogeys up my nose, food stuck in my braces, the whole lot.” Kat told MLN. After A-Levels Kat went on to study Film making, “I really love both art and film, but I felt that studying art would make me start to see it as a chore. “I really wanted to expand my skillset with filmmaking, which I didn’t have much practice in before. “I’d love to get somewhere successful in the film industry,

15

particularly down the directing path which I’m specialising in now, because it’s so satisfying seeing a project materialise. I’m never going to give up on art, but I want to keep it fun for myself instead of something I start to dread doing.” Kat gives her tips to any aspiring artists. “Leave your comfort zone. It’s very impressive to do hyperreal drawings of celebrities and stuff like that, but it will really help your art if you learn the essentials like anatomy, painting from life, etc. “I’d say try using a limited palette, or going to a life drawing class.”

ARTS

I’M VENTING ALL MY EMOTIONS ABOUT COVID

This year, the artists are competing for the prize of a £10,000 commission to paint the incredible Scottish-Italian classical solo violinist, Nicola Benedetti. Their work will then be exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Kat’s dream project is to create a painting that will emotionally strike a viewer and hopefully have a show in a gallery. “My favourite piece I created is one I’m working on now; it’s a portrait of my dad in the beginning of the pandemic. “I’d say it’s how I’m venting all my emotions about Covid; all the worry, all the grief, it really helps to put those feelings into art sometimes. It’s also a lot larger than most of my other work, so it’s a bit of a challenge.” As the brush strokes and pencil marks come together each week, we wait to see what will be round the blend for Kat in the semi-finals …


MNL

ARTS

ARTS

Rediscovering classical: Can you convert Gen Z?

I

t’s safe to say, the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall is not my typical venue on any evening, but one-night last week I found myself sitting in the crowd listening intently. Much more of a modern music kind of person, I prefer tracks which are heavy on the lyrics and a little lighter on the String Section. However, to my delight conductor Andrew Manze and violinist Lawrence Power came together to produce an hour and a half of classical bliss for the ‘Wild Swans’ show last Thursday evening. The show was composed of four pieces, Strauss’ ‘Don Juan’, Anders Hillborg’s ‘Viola Concerto’, Dag Wíren’s ‘Serenade for Strings’ and finally, Sibelius’ ‘Symphony No.5’. While this meant nothing to me at the time, I now know that Lawrence Power is one of the most internationally-renowned players of the violin, and conductor Andrew Manze is widely celebrated as one of the most inspirational conductors of his generation. Once inside the impressive building, nestled in Liverpool’s beautiful Georgian Quarter, there is a bar offering teas, coffees and plentiful alcoholic beverages. Although you should steer clear if the thought of a gin and tonic paired with classical music could send you off into an early slumber. Having visited the event with my mother, I couldn’t help but notice how young the both of us were in comparison to the other guests although there was the odd grumpyfaced teenager undoubtedly brought

here by a persistent grandparent. While the showing I visited was more popular amongst an older crowd, the Liverpool Philharmonic is known for having one of the highest attendances of under 25s. Our seats, placed on the upper balcony, provided us with a spectacular view across the expanse of the Philharmonic, helping me to realise that the building is clearly a replica of the Tardis. It makes the audience question how such a massive internal structure can fit inside of the quaint looking exterior.

T

he musicians, all dressed to impress and perched on their seats, begin to practice playing, somehow this morphs together into a beautiful symphony without them even trying. As the conductor arrives onto stage, the audience booms with cheers and applause, but as soon as the music starts, the listeners are stunned into silence. The first piece, although amazing, reminds me of the tunes you would hear in the Tom and Jerry episodes of childhood years, quizzical and chirpy. Yet, the piece moves through stages, almost like chapters of a book or scenes of a movie, something I’d never noticed about classical music before. Each and every musician on stage is undeniably in their element, they are one with the music. The conductor moves swiftly, guiding the performers into harmony. Each piece of the show lasts a minimum of 15 minutes, much longer than

Review by: ELLIE ROCHELL

the Spotify tracks I’d listen to. The second composition features Lawrence Power, and though violins aren’t my usual cup of tea, it’s amazing to hear the noise that just one person and their instrument can make. I’d consider this piece far more contemporary than the first, Power moving with the violin almost as if he has been possessed. But the cultured and understanding part of my brain tells me not to snicker at his demonic movements, but to notice how focussed and passionate he is about the music. The intermission allows for a toilet break and for visitors to grab another drink or even an ice cream. However, once everyone returns to their seats, it doesn’t take long for the music to recommence. The final two compositions are just as spectacular as the first, but the closing piece lasts for an extended 31 minutes. The crescendo is immense, the music feels heavy with emotion and imagination. And henceforth commences 10 minutes of applause. My hands tingle from clapping for so long, but as each of the four sections of the orchestra bow, the audience roars with another round of applause. Leaving the Philharmonic in the hustle and bustle of the chattering crowd, I’m left wondering why I hadn’t visited sooner. Maybe classical music is for me after all.



The MNL podcast is here LISTEN TO THE LATEST NEWS AND VIEWS FROM THE MNL TEAM

16


MNL

ARTS

ARTS

Wirral DJ gets warehouse dancing

I

By HARRY HUGHES n February 2020, Hoylake’s own Dj Streaks was flying high - both literally and metaphorically. He had just flown to Brest in France to perform a closing house and techno set at the Astropolis festival. The songs played were all his own, the room was filled and the whole crowd was dancing. That same weekend, he released his single ‘The Best Rapper Alive’, which went on to become his biggest release and earned him the attention of his current label, Method Records. 2020 was to be a year of great promise for the young producer. However, little over a month later, the world was locked down. Throughout the pandemic, Streaks (real name Jonny Holmes) released a series of dance singles and remixes to continued success, but only in the last few months has he began performing live again. A slot in Birkenhead’s Future Now festival at Future Yard and the Summer Daze Terrace Party in Middlesbrough marked his return to a live audience. “Those gigs were pretty quiet. The Future Yard one wasn’t really a big dance event. They were more focused on bands and singers. The Middlesbrough one was just kind of in a bar, so it wasn’t too lively.” If lively was what he was looking for, Dj Streaks’ appearance at Manchester’s Warehouse Project last week was reliably the place to let loose. Headlined by Disclosure, his Method Records labelmates, Jonny also shared the main stage with other DJ’s such as Palms Trax and Folamour.

A

nd what a stage it is, with the Warehouse Project’s huge, cavernous backdrop making it the perfect venue for a sweaty and frenetic late-night rave. On the other hand, the place’s size could seem rather intimidating, especially for an up-and-coming artist who has only just left his teens. Worse still was Streaks’ slot as the 7pm opening act. As he took the stage to perform to an empty crowd, he immediately

injected some energy into the room, opening with ‘Everyday’ by the Avalanches. “The thing about DJing is it’s not really about performing as much as it is about creating the atmosphere you want. It’s less about you and more about what suits the environment.” Though it may not have been a “performance” as he may claim, Streaks’ set was certainly a prime example of his atmosphere-creating expertise. Although his set was certainly high-octane, the occasional harsh and abrasive noise of some of his early Soundcloud material was left behind for a more funky and slick sound, a direction which his most recent material has mirrored for the last year or so. Gone also was the bold decision to play all his own material, as he had done at Astropolis last year. He stated: “When you first start, you can’t be too heavy and you don’t want to steal the limelight from anyone else, so you’ve got to not go too crazy with it.”

P

erhaps it was this dedication to opening act etiquette that helped maintain his cool persona onstage, with much of the set spent with his eyes locked down on the decks and headphones locked firmly to his ears. Perhaps he was getting to grips with the scale of the venue and the reality of sharing a bill with such house heavyweights as Disclosure. Regardless, Jonny delivered everything one could ask for in an opening act. As standard practice as it may be for a DJ set to mix originals with other songs, it was clear to see that Streaks’ own songs garnered the biggest audience response. His own productions never fail to deliver a reliable groove, whether it be the standout ‘Every Morning, Every Night’ or ‘Best Rapper Alive’, an instrumental that somehow still managed to have people singing along. Even his as-yet-unreleased tracks on the setlist had that distinct Dj Streaks flavour. By the time he handed over the reins to the next artist, salute, Streaks had transformed the empty warehouse into the booming dancefloor that it

Dj Streaks at the decks

photo: Jody Hartley

would remain as until the early hours of the next morning. More importantly, he had rounded off the biggest set of his budding career so far. In between recording his upcoming album, he hopes opportunities like this will open the door to more shows in the future. “I’ve got a gig in Bristol next month, but then that’s it for this year. I didn’t really get into performing live until the end of this summer, so hopefully next year I’ll be doing more festivals now that I’m a bit more established.” If things work out the way he hopes, then be sure to look out for Dj Streaks and his funky tones traversing next year’s festival circuit. Audiences are sure to have a good time in his company.

s’ reak t S j fD t to ent o on’t wan m e c un od anno hose wh person e h t rt or in out f ristol, fo he man k o Lo gt nB gig i catchin t x e n n out o miss

It’s not really about performing as much as it is about creating the atmosphere you want.

17


ARTS

MNL

ARTS

UPRISINGS ‘81: By JACK MCGAHAN The Musuem of Liverpool hosted a seminar on Sunday where activists, writers, politicians and leaders came together to reflect and examine the Toxteth Uprisings of 1981

POLICE LINE STREETS OF TOXTETH, 1981

TOXTETH ON FIRE DURING RIOTS, 1981

POLICE LINE STREETS DURING BRIXTON RIOTS, 1981

18


ARTS

MNL

ARTS

A Commemoration

T

hings are as bad now, as they ever were” states Kim Johnson Labour MP for Riverside, 40 years on from the riots of 1981. On Sunday, the Museum of Liverpool welcomed activists, writers, artists, politician leaders of the Black Power Movement to discuss the origins, key events and the aftermath of the uprising in the early 80’s. Following a decade of increasing nationwide tensions between the black communities and the police force the movement culminating in riots in major cities throughout 1981. Racial discrimination by the increasing use of stop and search of the black community and inner-city deprivation resulted in the greatest civil unrest of the 20th century. Leila Hassan, former editor of Race Today magazine explained how the black population was changing at the time: “This was the first generation of black people to be born in Britain.

There was anger amongst the black youth. The Black Panther movement in the United States became highly influential to affect change in the UK. Like the Black Panthers this generation became organised and very militant.” Leila was married to broadcaster, writer and leading activist Darcus Howe. Howe was central to the black power movement, organising the 20,000 strong protest ‘Black People’s Day of Action’ on 2 March 1981. The protest was organised over two events: the framing of Joshua Francis and the handling of the New Cross house fire, where a petrol bomb was thrown through a window resulting in 13 black teenagers losing their lives. In the aftermath, the police had begun detaining other black teenagers in an attempt to twist the truth of what had occurred pushing them to admit that people at the house party were

responsible. Howe would later say the house fire is “the blaze we cannot forget.” The protest took approximately eight hours marching from Deptford to Hyde Park. Hassan said: “We wanted to bring London to a stand-still. That was our goal. The nationwide riots ignited in Brixton after plain clothes policemen had stopped and searched nearly 1000 people, the majority of whom were black. They did this over a period of only six days. The riots occurred from 10-12 April 1981, eventually leading to the riots in Toxteth, Liverpool in July of the same year. Following the alleged unlawful arrest of Leroy Alphonse Cooper, nine days of rioting ensued in Toxteth. The damages were catastrophic. Along with the death of David Moore, over 700 policemen were put in hospital, over 500 arrests were made and at least 70 buildings were fire damaged beyond the point of restoration. Jimmy Jagney, activist and member of the Liverpool 8 was present at the time of the Toxteth Riots. He explained: “Policing was horrendous for well over a decade, they would snatch kids of the streets. We were marginalised as a community, it was like we were being invaded by the police. The turning point for was St. Paul’s in Bristol 1980, that was massive. I saw an image of a Rastafarian throwing a brick at the police and my immediate thought was ‘when will this happen in Liverpool?’ It was only a matter of time.” He added: “After Leroy was arrested, the streets were swarmed with police. It was a frightening, terrifying and unforgettable experience which is now a huge part of British history.” Jimmy referred to the riot in St. Paul’s suburb of Bristol in 1980. A riot began after police had raided a café on suspicion of drug dealing which

mother has her face slashed when I was seven and the police never came to help. My friend was strip searched in the street at the age of 10 walking home. My uncle was battered by the police on mistaken identity. I don’t like the police, they’ve hunted my family and friends all our lives. It’s very much a case of ‘us and them’ attitude.” Kim Johnson Riverside MP, echoed Hoo’s sentiments: “Liverpool was divided by the north and south, there were ‘coloured’ bars in town and Kenneth Oxford (Chief Constable of Merseyside Police) had hardline tactics toward the black community in this city.” She added: “Things are as bad now as they were back then. There is still significant under-representation. The city council simply do not employ black people, we are still invisible. I want to change that. I want to give a voice to people.” For all the discussions of past troubles and endless battles for equality in this country, there is a sense of profound optimism and positivity that one day harmony will be found. In 2019, Kim Johnson became the first black MP in Liverpool winning 78% of the vote which is a step in the right direction, be it 38 years after the riots. Many presume that things have improved, others would argue that the struggle is harder now than ever because institutionalised racism is “far more subtle these days” according to Kim. Either way, to road complete equality remains long, and the struggle ever uphill, ever challenging.

‘My mother’s face was slashed when I was seven’ lead to unlawful stop and search tactics by the police. Poet Lawrence Hoo, although young at the time remembers it well. He put the feeling of contempt toward the police into words: “Today it is worse than the 80s because they still hold resentment to this day. My

19

TOP: POET LAWRENCE HOO PHOTO: JOE FOLEY BOTTOM: ACTIVIST JIMMY JAGNEY PHOTO: JOE FOLEY


Philharmonic Hall © Ellie Rochell

Contact us: @: merseynewslive@gmail.com Follow us: Mersey News Live magazine @MerseyNewsLive