The Turner Prize 2015 winners are taking up a unique ‘virtuoso’ position at LJMU’s School of Art and Design, which aims to partner the School with high profile creative artists who will enhance the student experience and promote Liverpool’s global profile within popular culture.
Fran Edgerley and Lewis Jones both form part of Assemble, a creative collective which works across the fields of art, architecture and design, seeking to reconnect the public with forgotten residential and commercial areas. The group champions a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative, seeking to actively involve the public in developmental plans. It is Assemble’s work in the Granby Four Streets, a cluster of terraced houses in Toxteth, which led to them winning the Turner Prize 2015.
The houses within Granby Four Streets were built around 1900 to house artisan workers but, following the Toxteth riots in 1981, the council acquired many of the houses in the area for demolition and redevelopment. Hundreds of people were moved out of the area and houses subsequently fell into disrepair. Local residents consistently fought plans for demolition and battled to save the houses. Over the past ten years they have cleaned and planted in their streets, painted the empty houses, organised a thriving monthly market, founded a Community Land Trust (CLT) and shown their area in a different light.
Assemble worked with the Granby Four Streets CLT to present a future for the area which builds on the hard work already done by local residents, contributing to the refurbishment of housing and public space, as well as helping create employment and enterprise opportunities.
Professor Caroline Wilkinson, Director of LJMU’s School of Art and Design, said: “I am delighted that the first virtuoso post has been agreed with Fran Edgerley and Lewis Jones from the creative collective, Assemble, and this provides an incredibly exciting opportunity for our students to work alongside, learn from and be inspired by an internationally recognised art, architecture and design collective. These innovative artists can offer a wealth of real world experience to our fine art and architecture students and I am sure that their teaching contribution will be invaluable. In addition, this further enhances the civic links between LJMU and the cultural hub of Liverpool, and demonstrates the reputation of Liverpool School of Art & Design as a provider of an innovative and creative student experience.”
Lewis added: “We’re really excited to be appointed at LJMU to work with staff and students across the School of Art and Design. We’ve had a fantastic experience working in Liverpool, in Granby Four Streets and elsewhere in the city, and we want to engage students in the possibilities of working with the people and city around them, using their creative practice as a tool to inspire positive social change.”