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Chinatown My Chinatown


Space is what we need, room to breathe, call your own... Over a restaurant table somewhere in Liverpool 1 Ms Kenny and Mr. Campbell talked of the space they occupied, the architecture, the ambient sound, the conversations, recalling memories of the Mills brothers on a juke box way back in time, Chinatown my Chinatown in 2/4 time. Time shifts and thoughts drift towards the streets and mapping a journey through the moments and snapshots of Chinatown. Sometime later they meet and retrace each other’s steps. Each took a different route crossing broad themes of community, neighbourhoods, of gentrification and desolation, seeking out the penny tray leftovers and the in-betweens. Interested in exploring every perspective, mapping out a future as The Sound Agents an invitation is extended to artists and researchers to contribute an impression of Chinatown. This publication contains reflections and observations of memories, dreams lost and found.


Chinatown My Chinatown was edited, designed and published in Liverpool by Moira Kenny, John Campbell, Jon Barraclough and Mike Carney. Chinese New Year, Liverpool 2011.

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This newspaper is a celebration of the success of the Shanghai Expo and represents a coming together of artists and researchers to offer their personal responses to the oldest Chinese Community in Europe.


Dr Robert MacDonald Chinasquare 1960ish. (2011) 210 x 297mm. Blue pencil, black ink pen on lined writing pad.


Norman Killon Four Eyed Gink outside the Chippie. (2011) Note pad & Family Photo’s. Collage: The Sound Agents.


Philip Lo Detached Identity – TMC. (2011) 420 x 297mm. Ink on cartridge with digital manipulation.


Richard Creed Ghost Story. (2008) 1500 x 1200mm. Oil on canvas.


Jon Barraclough Travel Bug. (2011) 250 x 200mm. Pencil and crayon in sketchbook.


Mike O’Shaughnessy The Importance of Study. (2011) 160 x 110mm. Pen / brush / Pentel & ink.


Quotation from L1 Oral History project. (2005)

“My father came to England in 1908. He was working in the laundry. In 1943 when the Japanese came to our village only about four or five Japanese soldiers came so we used a gong. We live in a big house with my mother and my four brothers. One time I was about eight years old I carried my brother who was about two to the mountain. My cousin bought me over at the end of the war. I had two years education. When I was sixteen I left school. I did not have a good education at all. I had to send money to my mother and my brother.”

“There was a hostel run by a family called Hebrum one of the first woman judges. I remember seeing people huddled up. They were very poor. They had their hair covered up as you see them now. All Eastern people on their way to America, I was broken-hearted. The conditions they were living in in the 1920’s. We were a little bit afraid of them but I know now that the smell was spices.”


Mike Carney Take It Away. (2008 to present) Digital photographs.


John J. Campbell Nelson Street Blues. (2011) 297 x 210mm. Graphite and ink.


Alexandra Wolkowicz Untitled. (2011)


Will Sergeant Miracles are Possible. (2011) 841 x 594mm. Silkscreen.


Jagjit Chuhan Chinese Red. (2011) Digital image for print or projection.


John Young House arrest (for Ai Weiwei). (2011) Collage.


Alun Roberts Happy New Year. (2011) 350 x 263mm. Digital.


Moira Kenny WIP (Work in Progress). (2005 to present) Audio, graphite, paint.

In L1 there were a number of court yard houses, a free standing water pipe in the middle that everybody shared and the toilets were somewhere in that ring. The houses went around it double storey so they were very high density. Eventually they became the breeding ground of cholera. Before that there were also back to back houses like Dukes Terrace, that was two houses back to back with no cross ventilation vented on one side with no window. They gradually refined them. The Bye Law Terraces designed on the bye-laws of Liverpool Authority was the first in the country to design them the idea was to get cross ventilation and to get light in. Kitty Wilkinson, Agnes Jones, Eleanor Rathbone, Florence Nightingale formidable women, making huge waves when a womans place was in the home bringing up the kids. Kitty came from Ireland and was taking in washing establishing the second phase of public health movement from the 1840’s.


Quotations from L1 Oral History project. (2005)

“Chinatown sometimes seems stuck in the 70s”

“I’m ashamed of Chinatown it’s only half a street”

“Everyone considers this district as Chinatown and it really grates me; it’s L1.”

“Come off it you want to stop moaning. All the changes in Liverpool One you’ve never had it so good, it’s safe to walk around here of a night and your house is lovely.”

“It’s that bad here they even hang the ducks! If you had been born years ago the old Chinatown was the best it used to have on the window of the curio shop ‘We do not buy Japenese goods’ isn’t it? Do you remember that? Oh aye yeah we had some good times.”

“The Wah Sing started formerly in 1965 on the first floor of the Tai Wah Restaurant opposite the ABC Cinema In Lime Street. I started the first Chinese class on a table tennis table when all of the Liverpool Chip Shops were closed for members to learn the thoughts of Chairman Mao. Later on members suggested to teach the children. People donated one child each to be taught Chinese. We would pick them up and take them home afterwards. We started with eight children we now have over two hundred and sixty! We are dedicated to educating the children.”


About the contributors

Jon Barraclough My piece is a drawing of a plastic ant with CHINA debossed on its abdomen. This is my first sense of China from being a short-sighted child – a word on a plastic, mass produced toy that’s travelled half way around the world to be in my hand. I was born in Yorkshire in the 1950s but now live and work in Liverpool. I studied Fine Art Media at Bradford and Graphic Design at Newcastle before working as a photographer in New York and London in the 1980s. Since moving to Liverpool I’ve done some teaching and worked in various guises as a graphic designer/artist. Currently I’m based at Elevator Studios as Jon Barraclough and Company and share my space with lovely, inspiring people. www.jonbarraclough.co.uk

John J. Campbell John J. Campbell is an artist, musician and co-founder of The Sound Agents whose work encompasses electronic soundworks, installation and group performance. He has published work nationally and internationally under his own name and various group names for over thirty years including his group Its Immaterial and the French act La Fiancée. thesoundagents@gmx.co.uk

Richard Creed “The theme of my paintings is ‘paradise lost’ where the material world evaporates into a physical or psychological disaster. Ideas of loss and alienation encompass references to iconic figures such as the astronaut and Big-foot.”

Mike Carney ‘Take It Away’ is an ongoing documentation of mysterious, abandoned, half eaten chippy dinners. In the context of this publication it is not intended as a derogatory statement aimed at the Chinese community, it is an observation of the wastefulness and arrogance of the West. Mike Carney is a Liverpool based designer and artist. He is a studio member of The Royal Standard artist collective and curates and publishes Drawing Paper with Jon Barraclough. www.mikesstudio.co.uk www.drawing-paper.tumblr.com

Jagjit Chuhan ‘My paintings focus on the human form in isolation and retaining a sense of privacy, suggesting strength and fragility, pleasure and pain. The digital works use the allure of colour and imagery to explore a sense of identity; they are designed to be projected or printed up to bill-board size.’ Chuhan’s paintings have been exhibited in Europe, Asia and UK venues including Tate Liverpool; Barbican Centre, London; Arnolfini, Bristol and Ikon, Birmingham. Solo exhibition venues include Horizon Gallery, London; The Lowry, Salford and Watermans Arts Centre, London. Her paintings are in collections including the Arts Council Collection. j.chuhan333@btinternet.com

Creed’s paintings have been shown at venues including the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool in the John Moores Painting Exhibition; Cornerhouse, Manchester; Pitshanger Manor Gallery, London; Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry; The Lowry, Salford; North-West House, Brussels, Belgium; Orebro Castle, Sweden; Shanghai University, China and Teo Wetterling Gallery, Singapore. His paintings are in collections including the University of Liverpool Art Collection. rickcreed@btinternet.com

Michael Head Michael Head is a musician. He is most famous as the lead singer and songwriter for Shack and the Pale Fountains. The New Musical Express has described him as ‘a lost genius and among the most gifted British songwriters of his generation’. www.shacknet.co.uk

Moira Kenny Artist / PhD Researcher. Thesis Title: ‘Chinese Whispers: An Audio Visual History of the Chinese Elders in Liverpool’. Co-founder: The Sound Agents. Work encompasses Art Direction, Film, Audio, Oral History, Drawing. thesoundagents@gmx.co.uk www.internationalchinesesoundagency. blogspot.com www.ming-ai.org.uk/ chineseworkforce


Mike O’Shaughnessy There is a small Drawing in the British Museum. Hendrickje Stoffels by Rembrandt van Rijn. The painted marks are spare, exacting and very beautiful. A quintessentially European drawing, the calligraphic brush strokes appear oriental in influence and origin. Part Chinese and part western. This drawing is my own observation. From Hong Kong to Liverpool. The importance of study. Norman ‘The Cat’ Killon Cockney by Birth Scouser by Choice Step Father Chang Pu Tsai DJ since 1963 Eric’s since 1970’s Contributor to the myth of Probe Walker Art Gallery 17 years

Senior Lecturer in Graphic Arts / Illustration at Liverpool School of Art & Design / LJMU. Illustration clients have included Vogue Magazine, Penguin Books, Sony, The Royal Mail and V2 for Elbow. contact@moshaughnessy.co.uk

thesoundagents@gmx.co.uk

Philip Lo My first encounter of Chinatown in Liverpool was a palpable awakening of my familial roots and in particular my close relationship with my grandparents. The dialect and the raw character of Liverpool’s Chinatown awakened in me, my childhood memories of the times spent with my grandfather who will always remain an inspiration in my life. Like Liverpool, he too, was detached from the motherland but through his sheer spiritual perseverance against all odds, he illuminated a path for all of us... p.lo@ljmu.ac.uk

Dr Robert MacDonald Doctor Robert was born in Liverpool in 1951. His father was a Liverpool Prize fighter and his mother worked in Jacobs the cracker factory. Robert went on to become an architect with a double first class honours at The Liverpool School of Architecture. r.g.macdonald@ljmu.ac.uk

Alun Roberts Alun Roberts was born in Liverpool in 1983, and studied Fine Art at the Cardiff School of Art and Design. He then moved to Bristol, before coming full circle and returning to Liverpool. He is a founding member of the MassEye Art Collective, which has exhibited throughout the UK at private venues and various festivals. He is also a member of Osun Arts and the Solar Arts Project, both of which are based in Liverpool. alun.r.roberts@gmail.com

Will Sergeant Will Sergeant is best known for his work as songwriter and guitarist with Echo & The Bunnymen with whom he has recorded and performed world-wide for thirty years. He also has long-term ties with the experimental side of life in the fields of performance, recording and the visual arts. He has produced solo and collaborative works since the 1980s. www.willsergeant.com

Alexandra Wolkowicz It is believed that the ritual burning of spirit money transforms it into real currency in the other world. Alexandra Wolkowicz is a Polish / German photographer and artist currently resident in Liverpool UK. Her work explores themes about our relationship with the world and how we share it with each other and other living things. Essentially tactile and documentary, her work springs from her experience with photography, performance, theatre and the creation of unique representations of places, things and histories. www.wolkowicz.com

John Young “The guilty pleasures of idealised Maoist propaganda collide with gestures of artistic solidarity – this is my Chinatown.” John Young works across several disciplines particularly Graphic Design, and the sonic and visual arts. His projects have taken him to Tokyo, Barcelona and Long Island. He currently is the pathway leader for the Visual Communications pathway of the Graphic Arts course at Liverpool School of Art and Design. Art & Design Academy Duckinfield Street Off Brownlow Hill Liverpool L3 5YD T. 0151 904 1216


Michael Head Chinatown. (2011)

What does Chinatown mean to you? My earliest memories of Chinatown would have to be when I was about six. My dad and his mates coming back to the house on a Saturday night. “Where’ve you been?” I’d say and a chorus of drunken verse would shout back in unison “Chinatown”. Wow, I’d think, evoking magical thoughts of this place that sounded thousands of miles away. A few years later I went for my first meal with my dad and his mate and my brother John. “Where are we goin’ ?” I asked, “Chinatown”, still sang in unison. Wow, I thought, at last. We went to a restaurant about two down from the Mabo, but the excitement soon turned to horror. My dad and his mate, two aging teddyboys feeding the exotic fish in the tank next to us bits of their banquet for two, me and my brother open mouthed, not knowing whether to laugh or grass them up. A memorable meal to say the least.

What memories do you have? It may be a fleeting journey past the arch on the way into town, architectural interest, it may mean nothing to you, in that case why is that? You may have strong links through family or friends. Please get in touch and share your thoughts and experiences. thesoundagents@gmx.co.uk

Years later I had the pleasure and privilege to meet Bert Hardy, the famous war photographer who worked for Picture Post in the 40’s and 50’s. He was working on a project for the magazine about inner cities and came to Chinatown. His photographs of the area are legendary. He told me for some reason the locals took to him being an Eastend cockney and having a down to earth personality, he was allowed access into the mythical opium dens, brothels and gambling sessions and took some amazing shots. My daughter Alice went to school in Chinatown, so dropping her off or picking her up, I got to know the area quite well. Being an inquisitive little so and so as me Ma used to call me, I got books on the area to see what it was like a hundred years ago. With the stories pictures and tales in the books I wasn’t far off as a six year old growing up thousands of miles away in Everton imagining this magical romantic almost mythical place called Chinatown. Anyway, I could have written about the history of the place like when it was formed or the famous people who have visited, but you can go on line for that. Love Mick.

Photograph: Jon Barraclough Model: Alexandra Wolkowicz


The Sound Agents is an artist led not for profit arts organisation founded by Mr John J Campbell and Ms Moira Kenny in 2010. Working with the Chinese community, L1 residents and business sector to highlight and encourage international research, collaborations and development within Chinatowns in London, Paris, New York and San Francisco. The Sound Work in The Black-E Dome was recorded, developed and produced by Mr Campbell and Ms Kenny using archived audio material of residents of Chinatown and present day recordings, ambient sound of shipping, Chinatown sounds and morse code. Sedan Chair and Unicorn on loan from Mr Colin Wan, Founder of the UK Chinese Unicorn Academy. www. internationalchinesesoundagency .blogspot.com

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this publication in all their varying ways. Bill Harpe, Black-E. Dr Angie Thew. Martin Downie, Director, Art & Design Academy, LJMU. All of the pupils at Wah Sing Chinese School, Duke Street for the rabbit drawings. Master C. K. Cheung for the calligraphy titles. Wah Sing Chinese School

Thankyou to everyone who took part in the L1 Oral History project in 2005.

This project is financially supported by the City of Liverpool to celebrate the success of the Shanghai Expo.

Quotes taken from audio recordings of Michael Swerdlow, Lilly Clarke, Maureen, Patsy and Nancy, George and Johnny, and other members of the community.

www.liverpoolwahsing.org

Public Realm / Health quotes taken from interviews with Professor John Ashton, the North West Regional Director of Public Health and Regional Medical Officer and Dr Robert MacDonald Black and White Drawings based on original photographs sourced from the local Chinese Community Reference source, copyright unknown: courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Merseyside Maritime Museum) Paintings include participants, Nancy and Patsy, George and Johnny, Maureen, Jimi and an unknown friend, June and George. RIP Johnny and Nancy. Seel Street / Slater Street Photographic Image Designed by Moira Kenny Funded by Liverpool Culture Company, supported by Frenson. 2007.

Design: Mike Carney and Jon Barraclough. All artworks copyright Š The Artists. Published in February 2011. www.mikesstudio.co.uk www.jonbarraclough.co.uk


Chinatown My Chinatown  

Art newspaper containing artists responses to Chinatown Liverpool (one of Europes oldest Chinese communities).

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