Translating the street

TRANSLATING THE STREET – Alternator Studio/Oxton Road, Birkenhead, 5 March

Ever wondered what happens on the periphery of the local High Street? What goes on in those small shops, hair salons and cobblers that serve the community and survive against the fierce competition of national and international megastores?

Oxton Road is one such periphery. It connects the homogenous High Street and indoor Shopping Arcades of Birkenhead with the lush heights of Oxton Village. Alternator Studio, located at the top end of Oxton Road, considers this street as a great place to start thinking about issues around site and identity. Oxton Road is full of independent shops and small-scale businesses and artefacts, from model ships to parrot cages, from brooms and light fittings to exotic fruits, and from international hair studios to world food shops.

Over the past few months, three international artists, Haleh Jamali, Harold Offeh and Jeff Young, have been the guests of three independent shops on Oxton Road and the adjacent Borough Road.

They have been listening, filming, photographing and travelling with their hosts into the personal and professional lives of the shop owners and their clients. They collected stories about all the mended shoes that were never picked up, the roasted chestnuts, the riots and Audrey Hepburn and have translated these creatively into new artworks that will be presented in the shops on Saturday 5th March 2016, 10.30am- 5.00pm.

Harold Offeh, internationally known video and performance artist, will bring a 70s flair into the All Nations Hair & Beauty salon, 5 Oxton Road, Birkenhead CH41 2QQ. Fascinated by early L’Oreal advertisement videos, Harold will present photographs taken in the shop, observing the wondrous transformations of clients, all set to a backdrop of Audrey Hepburn.

Haleh Jamali, known for her powerful portraits, will project two intimate and thought-provoking new videos entitled ‘Frontier’ and ‘Crossing the line’ onto the back wall of the colourful exotic fruit and veg trader, K&N. Amidst boxes of produce from all corners of the world, questions of identity are posed with particular urgency. K&N Fresh Vegetables & Fruit shop, 55 Oxton Road, Birkenhead CH41 2QQ.

Jeff Young, nationally acclaimed playwright, pays homage to the longest serving cobbler on Merseyside, Frank Cavanagh. His shop sits within the last remaining business in a row of Victorian houses on Borough Road and he has worked there for around sixty years. Collecting impressions from this living archive on 369 Borough Road, CH42 0HA and the nearby Birkenhead Central Library, Jeff will take the audience on a trip through trams, tills and riots.

TRANSLATING THE STREET will take place on Saturday 5th March 2016, 10.30am- 5.00pm. The event is free to attend. For further information, photos and interviews, artists will be available during the day.

Alternator Studio, 57-59 Balls Road East, Birkenhead CH43 2TZ, will be open on the Saturday to be used as a base.

Artist Brigitte Jurack founded Alternator Studio in 2012. It is located in the former 1900 Bakery on the corner of Balls Road East and Oxton Road and hosts artists’ studios, production and workshop facilities. TRANSLATING THE STREET is a pilot scheme towards regular international artist residencies in Birkenhead. TRANSLATING THE STREET has been supported by Arts Council England and project partners Williamson Art Gallery, Bluecoat Arts Centre, FACT and Tate Liverpool.