The Bold Street Project

FACT have invited Liverpool artist Michelle Wren and Netherlands-based Katie Lips to create The Bold Street Project. Before working on the project, the artists had not met, but were invited to collaborate because of the unique take on ideas around the local and the global in their work. The project brings together Wren's local photo-montages and the global online communities of Lips as its inspiration, and a meeting place between the two artists.

The Bold Street Project
The Bold Street Project

Since graduating from Goldsmiths, Michelle Wren has been creating intricately fabricated sculptural photo-collages of Liverpool streets. Katie Lips is a creative technologist, innovator and blogger, working under the banner of Kisky Netmedia.

Wren has built a three-dimensional collage model of Bold Street through which visual and sound-based content is presented. In her choice of structure she references Bold Street's incredible history, her street mimicking an early form of visual entertainment called a diorama, invented by photography and moving image pioneer Louis Daguerre.

Liverpool was one of only four UK cities that Daguerre's Diorama Theatre toured to, and was shown on Bold Street in 1828.

It consisted of a revolving floor and three stages, each containing multi-layered linen panels with scenes painted on both sides, and with a clever play of light one scene dissolved into another. This formed an early sort of multimedia show or installation, the effect of which was so subtle that both critics and the public believed they were seeing a moving image painting.

Through a process of layering cut-out digitally rendered photographs, the Bold Street model in the Media Lounge is both self consciously 'old school' in its use of technology and contemporary in its use of digital moving imagery.

In parallel, Katie Lips has used widely available online tools to create a virtual framing structure. The expansive blog into which people may upload their memories or view items of interest draws material from a wide range of sources.


Featuring everything from early portraits made on Bold Street by local photographer E. Chambré Hardman to the short-lived Café Berlin; content by Jeff Young and Pete Wylie; interviews with shop-keepers and Jegsy Dodd performing 3am in Bold Street; the blog is a non-linear collage of content. For Lips, the computer screen becomes the contemporary equivalent of Daguerre's diorama.

Also collaborating on the project are the Bold Street community, tenants from tenantspin, local film makers and young people from FACT's youth programme.

Amongst the stories and memories of Bold Street included in the work, Alex Cox and Chris Bernard dressed as priests and walked up and down Bold Street popping in to Hairy Records to buy a copy of Jimmy Cliff's The Harder They Come and then into Christian's fruit and veg market for some fresh produce.

Artist and broadcaster Roger Hill has made a set of new audio tours that mix the factual, the personal and the fabricated. His eclectic mix sums up Bold Street perfectly, outlining as it does the good, the bad and the dirty.

To some, Bold Street is a fast-buck, fancy dress, seasonal store, urine-stained thoroughfare with greasy eateries, a history of money laundering and tacky bars replacing bookshops. To others it is Liverpool's spirit of independence incarnate.

Historically, cities need particular streets that can be held up as bastions of commercialism, corruption, dirt or debauchery - Bond Street, Sauchiehall Street, Oxford Street, Wall Street, Fleet Street - and, of course, Liverpool has Bold Street.

For The Bold Street Project, the artists have created a timebased shape-shifting piece of work that is constantly developing and growing to reflect the input of their collaborators.

Please add your memories and ideas to this exhibtion - we welcome the wacky and wonderful as well as the sentimental memories that mark the rise and fall of a street through a time of change.