Photographer’s work on arts project helps win top national award

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A cultural project documented by a local photographer has scooped a top national broadcast accolade.

Statues Redressed – a partnership between Liverpool City Council and Sky Arts – took gold in the Best Content Partnership at the Broadcast Digital Awards.

Production company Northern Town brought together 20 artists to challenge and celebrate the role of the city’s statues in modern times as part of an ongoing debate around who and what should be immortalised as public monuments.

David Edwards, known locally for his work with West Kirby RNLI, was the official stills photographer for the project, shown on Sky Arts last October.

The artists’ interventions ranged from the celebratory to the confrontational, with the statues gradually revealed to the public throughout the summer of 2021.

The Benjamin Disraeli statue at St George’s Hall

The reimagined statues included:

  • Artist Bob and Roberta Smith boldly placed a ‘We will get through this with art’ banner underneath Jacob Epstein’s famous Liverpool Resurgent sculpture, reinforcing the statue’s original post-war message of hope and giving it new meaning following the impact of the pandemic
  • Designer Daniel Lismore gave the statue of Victorian statesman Benjamin Disraeli a whole new look with a Pride-themed Empress of India dress. The redressing was a commentary on Disraeli’s reputation as a flamboyant dresser and a dandy who wrote love letters to men, and on the fact that Victorian anti-homosexuality laws were imposed by Britain across the Empire. In many ex-colonial countries today, those laws still apply.
  • Taya Hughes dressed statues of Christopher Columbus, Captain Cook and Henry The Navigator in elaborate Elizabethan-style ruffs made from fabrics associated with indigenous populations in Africa, New Zealand and Australia as a commentary on these explorers, who claimed to ‘discover’ these parts of the world.
  • Designer Stephen Jones gave The Beatles statue on the Pier Head a new look, creating four spectacular hats, each inspired by a different Beatles song to celebrate the iconic band.

The judging panel, who were also shown David’s images as part of the submission, described Statues Redressed as “a brave and topical documentary highlighting many unknown complexities in our town”.

Queen Victoria monument

David Edwards said: “My brief was to record not only the grand reveals but to document how the artists, activists and film crew made it happen.

“The journey was full of emotion as the statues covered the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly” from colonialism and slavery to the celebratory.

“My images made the major broadsheets, formed part of an exhibition in Liverpool One and found some notoriety when Nigel Farage used my image of Queen Victoria to chastise Liverpool for being involved with the project.”

David has been a freelance photographer for a number of years and though originally primarily published in outdoor interest titles he now works almost exclusively as a commercial photographer on a variety of projects from large interior structures through to commercial portraits and fashion/editorial work.

He also undertakes Third Sector work supporting the RNLI volunteer crews of the West Kirby Lifeboat through his photography, liaising with their PR teams both locally and nationally.

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