Carving a path: A walking tour of Liverpool’s best sculptures
The Liver Birds may be Liverpool’s most famous sculptures but from their lofty perches, these watchful avians have witnessed countless others spring up across the city centre over the years. Our grand city plays host to more statues than any other in the UK outside of London, and with the 2016 Biennial set to bring even more public artwork to Merseyside, Your Move has put together a walking tour of Liverpool’s best sculptures, from historic monuments to hidden gems that slip under the radar too easily.
Words by Mark Langshaw
Photography by Sam Wike
1) SuperLambBanana – Tithebarn Street
This quirky mashup of animal and fruit can be found standing guard outside the Avril Robarts Library on Tithebarn Street. Weighing almost eight tonnes and standing at 17 ft, Japanese artist Taro Chiezo’s SuperLambBanana was commissioned in 1998 for Britain’s Art Transpennine exhibition. Taro’s creation not only shows off the artist’s sense of humour, but also raises awareness of the pitfalls surrounding genetic engineering and evokes the heyday of Liverpool’s docks by merging two of its most common cargo loads: fruit and livestock.
2) Palanzana – Byrom Street
Situated on the west side of Byrom Street between twin flyovers lies Stephen Cox’s Palanzana, a tree-like form wrapped around a large sphere which was carved out of volcanic rock mined from an Italian quarry that shares its name. Commissioned for the Garden Festival of 1984 and relocated to its current home in 1998, the public artwork highlights Stephen’s fascination with dressed and undressed stone, with parts of the sculpture made from smooth, polished stone and others from unfashioned rock.
3) The Hod Carrier – Hunter Street
The Hod Carrier is a relic of Liverpool’s Gerard Gardens tenements, a grand residential development which once housed entire communities. A tribute to a worker who lost his life during the building’s construction, the monument is a replica of a sculpture which was salvaged when the flats were demolished in 1987. Some would argue the Hod Carrier is too fine an artwork to be situated amid multiple lanes of traffic on Hunter Street, but its placement marks the original location of Gerard Gardens.
4) The Hillsborough Monument Memorial – William Brown Street
A poignant tribute to the 96 football fans who died in the 1989 stadium disaster, The Hillsborough Monument Memorial was crafted by renowned sculptor Tom Murphy to ensure Liverpool city centre has a dedicated spot where people can go to remember the victims of the tragedy. The circular sculpture, which was commissioned by the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, is wrought out of bronze and bears the names of the 96 along with figures which represent the themes of justice, hope and loss.
5) The Beatle Street Statue – Matthew Street
Liverpool’s music legacy is etched into stone thanks to the number of sculpture tributes to The Beatles found up and down the city. Adorning a Matthew Street wall, the Beatle Street Statue by local artist Arthur Dooley was the first to arrive on the scene when it was unveiled in 1974. The artwork depicts cherubic versions of the band members being cradled by The Madonna, above the fitting caption ‘Four Lads Who Shook The World’.
6) The Statue of Liberty – Lime Street
Most Liverpudlians have walked right past this hidden gem on countless occasions and many of those who have spotted it won’t have given its cultural merit a second thought. A miniature version of the Statue of Liberty sits regally above McHale’s Irish American Bar as a reminder of a bygone age, a time before World War II when the bar’s predecessor was regularly frequented by US servicemen. The watering hole doesn’t host as many American sailors these days, but the monument above it adds stateside character to Lime Street.
7) Reconciliation – Concert Square
Although Concert Square’s culture is largely limited to the drinking variety, a public artwork of great historic significance stands proudly amid its various bars, often going unnoticed by the area’s revellers. Reconciliation, which depicts two metallic figures embracing, was created by sculptor Stephen Broadbent as a symbol of racial healing and an eternal reminder of the wrongs committed during the peak of the slave trade. Identical sculptures can be found in Belfast, Glasgow, Benin and Virginia.
8) Lady Hare Holding Dog – Baltic Triangle
The Baltic Triangle is a creative hive in the heart of the city centre and Sophie Ryder’s Lady Hare Holding Dog is one of the most imaginative public art exhibits on display there. Located on the junction of Jamaica Street and Jordan Street, this bronze sculpture depicts a surreal amalgamation of human and hare locked in embrace with a canine. London-born Sophie has long been fascinated with hybrid creatures and based the hare’s human characteristics on her own body.
9) John Lennon Peace Monument – King’s Dock
Situated on the banks of the River Mersey, tucked away behind ACC Liverpool at Kings Dock, the John Lennon Peace Monument adds colour to the city’s waterfront and celebrates the late musician’s message of peace. The sculpture was created by American art extraordinaire Lauren Voiers, commissioned by the Global Peace Initiative and gifted to the people of Europe as part of a gala ceremony to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday.