Much of the work of the artist Jayne Lawless strives to address a vital part of her personal history as much as it questions the future of the places in which we make our lives.
This week, the gable end of Oakfield Road in Anfield, Liverpool, will be projected with the phantom of hopes for a mural that was never made: Ghost Mural. This wall is among the many that are disappearing fast in the most recent round of demolitions, as Anfield’s homes continue to be subjected to a difficult and controversial regeneration scheme.
As Lawless put it back in August 2013, in one of her many detailed and candid blog posts: ”I want to paint something beautiful on something others deemed not. So the idea was simple, paint something big, bold, striking, vibrant, edible almost, on a building that had been included in the Housing Market Renewal initiative in Everton and Anfield, the area I grew up in and am currently living.”
The painting of this mural became a greater challenge than one could ever have imagined, stretching out over years and encountering multiple political, personal and logistic hurdles — in an echo of the stalled re-housing plans faced by residents. Now, almost four years on from its beginnings in April 2012, what has come out of this struggle is a testament to the passion in Lawless’ practice and the strength of collaboration and peer-to-peer support, as much as the broad plangency of the subject matter among people of the city.
For the last year, Lawless has been working in partnership with filmmaker Janet Brandon to realise, through film, her hopes for an iteration of the mural that cannot be destroyed along with the houses. Many people around Liverpool have fought and struggled under the weight of a top-down reorganisation of their lives”
Utilising Brandon’s skilled, intricate approach to animation, this Ghost Mural, along with a short film (also produced by Brandon and Liverpool based composer Gary O’Donnell) will be able to continue to occupy a critical space, to address what has happened in Anfield/Everton and elsewhere, wherever it is seen in the future, much as with Lawless’ previous work, L5 6QW, which came out of the particular context and locality of the works very name and has gone on to have great resonance in the variety of settings in which it’s been shown across the country.
Like many people around Liverpool who have fought and struggled under the weight of a top-down reorganisation of their lives, Lawless is resilient and innovative in the face of it, and this is very much reflected in her work.