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Pavement artists draw on gallery inspiration; Ropewalk Square besieged by talent for competition.

Byline: BY RICHARD DOWN Daily Post Staff

ART hit the streets this weekend, turning Liverpool's Victorian alleys into a mini Montmartre. The James William Carling Pavement Art competition saw artists spending hours hunched over paving slabs outside Fact, in Ropewalk Square, Bold Street.

Great sheets of paper were gummed to the walkways with yards of tape, and slowly masterpieces emerged that reworked the great canvasses on display in Liverpool's museums.

The artists were an assorted mixture of professionals, students and amateurs from across Merseyside.

Each one was marked out from the passing hordes not just by their paintsmattered clothing and lurid fingertips, but by competition badges marked "Screever", an Old English term for pavement artist.

Organiser Philip Battle, of Urbancanvas, said: "It beat all our expectations. The square is normally a drab cut through from Bold Street, but it took on a life of its own and became a mini Montmatre - the Parisian art quarter.

"The Ropewalks area and Bold Street have opened up to cafes in recent times, and visitors to the city want to see this sort of thing going on in what is old Victorian Liverpool."

Phil Redmond, judge on the day, said this was the sort of event that he hoped would be a legacy of the Culture Year.

He said that, while events such as La Machine were stunning examples of what could be achieved in Liverpool, they took huge amounts of organisation.

Street art events and competitions could be put together very quickly and with spectacular results, he added.

Hundreds stopped by to admire the work as the screevers vied for one of three competitions; the Peoples Prize, the Little Chalker's Children's prize and The James William Carling Award.

James William Carling himself was a bare-footed urchin from Liverpool who became an artist of international renown for his chalk creations.

At just eight years old, he was forced to scratch a living through street art following the death of his mother.

Born in 1857 in the deprived Irish area of Scotland Road, Carling struggled to survive as a talented artist and was considered a beggar.

He would probably have enjoyed the irony in Saturday's competition being held on the street where pavement art was once forbidden.

He died unrecognised, aged 30, and for Ron Formby, of the Scottie Press, and historian Michael Kelly, the competition that now bears his name is a fitting act of remembrance for a talented artist.

Mr Formby said: "We're pleased pavement art has returned to the city.

We now want to go further and see Carling's work back in Liverpool."

The competition was themed on Out of the Galleries with today's street artists reinterpreting works from National Museums and Galleries Liverpool.


Connie Sullivan, aged eight, from Aigburth Code: mb1801008paveart-2; Student Stacey Kelly from Wigan, studying the artwork Code mb1801008paveart-8; Artists at work during the James Carling pavement Art Competition, on Saturday Pictures: MARTIN BIRCHALL/mb1801008paveart-6
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2008
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