Saturday 5th March

When I arrived at the studio on Saturday morning, Jeff Young (one of our artists in residence) was already there, doing a sound check with Martin Heslop.

Jeff’s residency  had him placed in a shoe repair shop across the road from the studio. Frank Cavanagh was in his 80’s but had been at the shop since he was 14yrs old. Reluctant to talk to this ‘intruder’ at first, he was a completely different person on the day – handing out autographs to the many visitors to his shop.

He’d been interviewed by BBC Radio Merseyside about his involvement in the project, so this  had brought in many ‘locals’ who would never have found out about the project through the usual channels we  had used for advertising.

A woman came to the studio who had worked there in her teens, when it was a bakery. She had bad memories, but she didn’t say why.

I walked down to visit Haleh Jameli at K & N fruit and Veg store. There was already a small crowd around her, watching her videos and snacking on the food that the shop owners had generously provided.  The videos didn’t seem out of place at all, mounted on the wall above a stack of onions and potatoes. Harold Offeh, the final artist in residence, was stocking up a basket of vegetables in the shop, having wandered up from his residency at the hairdressers a few doors down.

Christine, the All Nations Hairdressers owner, was buzzing as she styled a customers hair and chatted about Harold’s photographs on the wall. At first I didn’t notice them – I thought they were part of the usual hairdressers paraphernalia , but then I realised that one of the models in the photographs was Brigitte Jurack, fellow studio member (and owner of Alternator)  heavily glammed up by Harold’s techniques.

Walking the short distance, I passed several people clutching maps – locals who had never visited the shops, but were drawn by curiosity.

I tried to catch up with my own work in the studio, but my concentration was bad. I wanted to talk to the visitors, find out about them and also ask their opinions on the project. (My job also, was to keep tweeting! @Altstudio2   )

So many people were crossing paths and talking to others that they would never normally interact with.

Just before 6pm, when all of the shops involved had closed for the evening, Jeff and Martin began their performance in the downstairs studio – chairs crammed between Brigitte’s sculptures.  They had a large crowd.

The evening ended with bowls of soup. bread and cheese being served in the upstairs studio.  It was meant to be just for the artists and a few invited guests, but there was so much food and so many people, it was served to all. Soo many people in our studio!!!

It was such an incredible day…an amazing 4 months ! I really hope we are able to do it again.

Radio Merseyside Interview with Frank Cavanagh and Sound piece by Jeff Young / Martin Heslop   https://soundcloud.com/alan-dunn/frank-cavanagh-radio-merseyside-interview-and-jeff-young-martin-heslop-a552hex

More images on the studio facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/Alternator-Studio-and-Project-Space-at-The-Old-Bakery-741308269275460/

Images courtesy of Alan Dunn and Carol Ramsay