Pride of Place: The Caravan Gallery

A pop-up gallery focusing on the incredible and commonplace occurrences of the day-to-day, Stephanie Kehoe introduces the Caravan Gallery…

Beginning as a weekend event set up to ‘document the ordinary and extraordinary details of everyday life’, a decade on and the Caravan Gallery is a thriving alternative space that travels the length and breadth of Britain and Europe, exhibiting local photographs taken by the owner/curators, Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale.

For the Liverpool’s international photography festival, LOOK/13, the Caravan Gallery has taken up residence on Renshaw Street with its Pride of Place project, described by Jan Williams as an “alternative visitor information centre”.

Not the first in the Pride of Place project series, Jan and Chris have returned to Merseyside, after having a life-long connection to the area, to share the many photographs they have taken of Liverpool throughout the past decade, opening their gallery doors wide for memories and nuggets about the city, by the people who know it best, its residents.

Continuing through until the 16th of June, the space offers an abundance of local knowledge, featuring venues which otherwise receive little coverage, as well as individual personal memories from visitors to the city. A featured project, entitled Liverpool Overheard, is a wall-sized paper hanging, on which visitors are encouraged to write down overheard conversations from within the city. Having a read-through of some of the quotes is as enlightening as it is amusing!

“The Caravan Gallery asks the opinion of the majority, the most often sidelined, general public”

Dealing with the LOOK/13 theme, Who Do You Think You Are?, the gallery goes straight to the source and asks Liverpudlians to highlight their opinions on the local area, along with their experiences. With Liverpool’s façade having changed dramatically over the past decade, the building of Liverpool One and renovations taking place all over the city, the Caravan Gallery asks the opinion of the majority, the most often sidelined, general public.

The temporary exhibition space also has a survey for residents to complete. The list includes questions about trivial, everyday topics, and for their opinions; for instance how they view Liverpool’s purple bins, an oddly ubiquitous feature of the area, concentrating on what makes Liverpool stand-out compared to the rest of the country.

With the co-founders Williams and Teasdale beginning their Caravan Gallery journeys around Liverpool and Merseyside, this project has allowed the pair to showcase their documentation of a city in development over the past decade, in doing so, illustrating just how much the area has changed in this period.

The prints (which are available to buy) give a behind-the-scenes look at Liverpool and its people. With mainstream evocations of tourist attractions such as the Three Graces, and clichéd sunset landscapes, the true nature and people of Liverpool are often overlooked. By placing everyday life centre-stage, Pride of Place peels back the curtain and documents the city and all of its features, rather than covering the same old ground.

After the close of the exhibition, the collected information will be kept and stored by the Caravan Gallery and hopefully compiled into a catalogue; digital or print, they don’t know.

Given its subject matter, the Pride of Place project cannot help to resonate strongly, providing visitors the chance to participate through their memories, but also serves as a unique resource for visitors to the area.

Stephanie Kehoe

The Liverpool Pride of Place Project continues until Sunday 16th June

Posted on 03/06/2013 by thedoublenegative