he Black & White Picture Place

Photographs of Liverpool

Anglican Cathedral from the door of the Somali Club 1983

The enormous Gothic tower of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral dominates the landscape of the south end of the city.

Here it is seen throught the derelict doorway of a once-grand residence next to the Somali Restaurant in Upper Parliament Street. The Somali provided an excellent (and cheap) vegetable curry upstairs, and a fairly squalid cellar equipped with a juke box and bar downstairs. It was inhabited by an amazing cross-section of humanity and was very much my late-night 'local' when I lived in this part of the city. It was a sad moment when the Somali finally closed.

I took this photograph the day before the building was due to be demolished. As I looked through the lens, clouds started to blot out the sunshine, a shadow slowly creeping up the wall... symbolic, I felt, of the events of a few months later, when much of this area was devastated during the so-called Toxteth Riots, which resulted in massive damage to property- but much more to community relations. This image is presented in memory of those unsettled times.

In recent years, Liverpool's housing associations have rebuilt here, in the style of the 18th century mansions which formerly occupied the site, to provide much-needed accomodation for young people.

You can see some photographs of the Somali's eventual demolition here

"Here is the dream I mentioned earlier: I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. I was in Liverpool. With a number of Swiss, I walked through the dark streets. I had the feeling that we were coming up from the harbour, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs. We climbed up there. When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square, dimly illuminated by street lights, into which many streets converged. The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square. In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly-lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree- a Magnolia- in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of the light. My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree. They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool and expressed surprise that he should have settled here. I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought "I know very well why he has settled here". Then I awoke.

On one detail of the dream I must add a supplementary comment: the individual quarters of the city were themselves arranged around a central point. This point formed a small open square illuminated by a larger street lamp, and constituted a small replica of the island. I knew that the 'other Swiss' lived in the vicinity of one of these secondary centres. The dream represented my situation at the time. I can still see the greyish-yellow raincoats, glistening with the wetness of the rain. Everything was extremely unpleasant, black and opaque- just as I felt then. But I had had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that was why I was able to live at all.
Liverpool is the "pool of life."
Carl Jung:
'Confrontation with the Unconscience'

"The magic of Liverpool is that it isn’t England. We are global and we have learned to tolerate and respect each other’s traditions. As such, we are a national asset".
Margaret Simey, 1999

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