Take It To The Bridge!

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Friday, May 18 is Light Night in Liverpool, a fantastic, free, hugely diverse cultural celebration across the city from 5pm until late. There’s so much to see and experience, it’s a firm booking in my diary. A great night out!

While I was working in Edinburgh with the publicity team and my commissioning editor on the final stages of my new book, North Coast Journey, I received a lovely invitation to contribute to one of Light Night’s wonderful installations.

The project is an ambitious collaboration between Tate Liverpool art gallery, Arup ,an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists working across every aspect of today’s built environment and Open Eye Gallery.

The team has been working with school pupils on both banks of the River Mersey to create a scale paper bridge that would span the river and link the communities on either side. Around 800 people will take part in this fantastic creation which will be made from paper and extend 15 metres across the atrium of the Open Eye Gallery at Mann Island in the city centre, close by the waterfront.

I feel honoured to have been among the people invited to contribute my thoughts on the theme of ‘Transformation’  on one of the many fragments of paper that will ultimately make the bridge.

I received a plan of the neat space into which I had to fit my concept and return it to the Arup team ahead of construction on Friday. My challenge was to make something eye catching and meaningful! I began by spraying the white paper gold, then I tore up some strips of thick hand made paper into small fragments to carry my words. The lovely hand made paper was bumpy and rough, I needed to write with care. I knew the letters would go all wobbly across the rough surface but I figured that was OK, as long as the final result legible! Besides, any transformation can be a wobbly process!

I thought about what I wanted to say and was inspired by the idea of the transformation of a caterpillar into a magnificent moth or butterfly. It’s not an easy journey. The caterpillar has to do a lot of unseen work to develop itself within its chrysalis. And when at last the magnificent moth or butterfly emerges it is not able to simply fly off immediately it must be patient. Very slowly it pumps body fluid into its silken wings. Then when the wings are expanded, the moth or butterfly must take time to rest and allow the structure within them to harden. Eventually the moment comes to fly and take to the air! Everything happens at just the right time. That’s the wonderful magic of transformation!

The butterfly has just two weeks to live, so every day is an extraordinary adventure. I also learned while researching this journey that butterflies taste with their feet!

It seems appropriate that I made my bridge artwork during Mental Health Awareness Week. It seems we are all like those magnificent moths and butterflies, evolving though life, facing new challenges, often needing quiet time to discover what works best for us and needing to take good care ourselves through the process.

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I wrote out my words on four pieces of paper and set them out just a little bit like butterfly wings. Sure enough, the hand made paper made my writing wobbly! Then I found some golden hearts to add to the words because any process of transformation requires a lot of love. I put them through the middle of the words, just a teeny bit like a butterfly body, made with love! Then I remembered I had to put my name on it somewhere so I managed to fit that onto another strip of handmade paper.

It’s been wonderful to take part in this amazing project. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity, thank you to everyone involved in making the bridge and for inviting me to play a teeny part in it. It was a lot of fun.

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I’m looking forward to seeing the bridge on Friday night, I’ll post pictures of it here! These pictures show my transformation of white paper into a message to be built into the bridge, inspired by butterflies! Here’s how my completed contribution looks!

With love X

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Postcard from: the fabulous Albert Dock

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While my work as a writer consumes much of my time, I am also Creative Director of a company that I founded to develop unique creative events and bespoke imagery for high end ambitious brands seeking to promote themselves to a worldwide audience.

This creative work fascinates me; the privilege of getting ‘under the skin’ of a client with vision allows me to deliver truly distinctive work that becomes the unique ‘signature’ of the brand.

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When Albert Dock, Liverpool requested key signature images for worldwide use, I was delighted to be working with one of Britain’s most beautiful and most popular tourist destinations.

On the banks of the River Mersey, Albert Dock is the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in Britain, built between 1841-1846 to a design by visionary engineer and architect Jesse Hartley.

The pioneering maritime heritage of Albert Dock is extraordinary; it was the world’s first non combustible dock warehouse system, built of cast iron, brick and stone – without timber, a fire hazard.

Much has changed. Today the beautifully restored former dock warehouses are a vibrant waterfront tourist destination. Atmospheric strong dock walls enclose cafes, bars, the magnificent Tate Liverpool art gallery and The Beatles Story, a wonderful underground musical journey. There are world class museums at the Dock too; the International Slavery Museum and Merseyside Maritime Museum 

Acclaimed and internationally renowned photographer Craig Easton worked with me to achieve these spectacular new images for Albert Dock.

Under the working title of Magic In The Air, I devised the creative concepts for the project to reveal Albert Dock and the Liverpool Waterfront in an astounding new light – inspired by a quote from Prince Albert in 1846:

“I have heard of the greatness of Liverpool but the reality far surpasses the expectation.”

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With the help of fantastic teams of people throughout the city, and especially the crew of the sailing ship Zebu, I achieved my  big idea to illuminate the immense Dock from within – as opposed to simply from outside.

The wonderous effect I envisaged was breathtaking. At the heart of  the previously dark Dock , the magical sailing ship I had dreamed up was tressed with lights through the rigging. She sparkled magically, mysteriously; inviting visitors to discover. Crowds of unsuspecting visitors to the dock were awe struck by the event. There was  generous applause around the quayside!

There’s  immense job satisfaction working with such visionary clients to develop bespoke, beautiful, creative, functional and succesful signature imagery for their brand.

‘Our ambition was to create a new set of imagery of Albert Dock to inspire a real sense of excitement, capturing the essence of the Dock and what we have to offer.

The attraction is full of life, history and character, and we have worked very closely with Brigid, Craig and their team to create this brand new view of Liverpool.

We are delighted with the final result, and we are excited about sharing these new images.’

Sue Grindrod, chair of Albert Dock Estate

“The Waterfront, with the Albert Dock at its heart, represents what’s so special about Liverpool but we did not have an image that really captured the special nature of what we have to offer.

We were therefore delighted to partner the Albert Dock, Brigid and Craig in providing us with a set of images that we can use to demonstrate what a unique Waterfront we have – and we are delighted with the outcome.

I have no doubt that these images will significantly enhance our ability to attract and win business for Liverpool.”

Chris Brown, director of Marketing Liverpool

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For any visitor to Liverpool, Albert Dock is a fabulous, memorable experience not to be missed.