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On Crosby sands

On Friday, I finished in Liverpool city centre at 17:00 and had a boat due to depart to Dublin at 22:00 from Bootle Docks just five miles up the road. This left me with time to look around at Crosby and Blundellsands, near the mouth of the Mersey. An old, quiet, clearly very affluent suburb of Liverpool with huge houses dating from a few years before and after the Great War, probably built as the residences of the managers who worked at such places as the Royal Liver and Cunard buildings I've pictured here in the last few days.

Signs pointed to parking for Anton Gormley's Other Place, and I wondered if I was going to see the 100 or so "statues on the beach" that one of my trainees had mentioned at Crosby. Curiously, though, the signs petered out towards the beach and I stopped a couple of times at a quiet park, and beside a boating lake and walked around in the immediate vicinity for a few minutes. The dog-walkers and joggers were all out on a pleasant evening; the beach was a good few hundred yards away - in these flat parts there's such a gentle shelf from town to sea that there's an interim of lagoons and sandhills much of the way.

Heading North again, expecting to leave Crosby, I found yet more signs to Anton Gormley's other place and , following, was directed right up into the top, beachside corner of the town where the signs petered again. Ah well .. I pulled into what looked like a regular seafront car park. With the traditional chip van and Ice cream van.

Families parked up; the more mature folks sitting in their cars watching the dipping sun, the boats coming in and out, and the other activities. The people of about our age taking a gentle walk on the front. Younger still, joggers and cyclers, and kids on the beach playing with balls and making sandcastles. And, now that I look carefully, odd people just standing out there on the beach gazing to sea. Motionless. Scattered over the sands. And I come to realise ... these are the statues on the beach that I had been told about. One hundred life size casts of the artist, all facing out to sea and spread across the sands ... accepted as part of the natural life of the place by the locals, enjoying their beach that evening amongst the work.

As the tide came in, the sun dropped towards the horizon and the light became lower, the figures disappeared into the sea. A head sticking up there, a complete torso visible off to the left and what looked like a paddling figure a short distance to my right.

Anton Gormley is the creator of Gateshead's famous "Angel of the North", and his "Other Place" work will remain on display in Crosby until November, when it will be moved to a new location.


Container boats, ferries, high speed cats passed by, and in due course it was time for me to head down to the docks and my own ship ... the "Norbay" bound for Dublin, from where I'm posting today.


(written 2006-06-25, updated 2006-06-30)

 
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