Ain’t No Time to Hate @ Dead Pigeon Gallery – review
“What does an art exhibition do?” asks Jonathan Turton at the launch of Ain’t No Time to Hate. This isn’t a rhetorical question, though, because this exhibition has two clear purposes – to bring art to an area of Liverpool that doesn’t get much of it, whilst attempting to start conversations around inclusion and diversity with people who may not feel part of them.
Ain’t No Time to Hate, an exhibition that celebrates diversity and inclusion, is showing at the constituency offices of Dan Carden, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton in Anfield, an area of Liverpool that is culturally underserved. The work featured is predominantly photography and images of artwork by a range of local and international artists.
This is the exhibition’s second showing, with Liverpool-based photographer Jonathan Turton creating and first showing the exhibit in Bold Street Coffee in 2020. The catalyst for the first exhibition was the 15 year anniversary of the racially motivated murder of Anthony Walker and strong international focus on the Black Lives Matter movement.
While working in the US, Turton stepped out onto the street of the hotel he was staying at, in his sight: a Ku Klux Klan rally, at the other end of the street, a counter-demonstration. A bearded man held a placard that said ‘ain’t no time to hate’. Turton, enamoured, took his camera out and started to take photographs.
After the encounter, he got in touch with his friend Dominique Walker – chair of the Anthony Walker Foundation. The foundation was set up after the racially motivated murder of her brother, Anthony, in Liverpool in 2005, with the aim of educating people on diversity and inclusion, combatting racism and hate crime. The exhibition was a way to celebrate diversity and raise money for the foundation.
Jayne Lawless, director of Dead Pigeon Gallery, saw the exhibition in 2020. She says: “It felt like the most self-contained, beautiful way to introduce a conversation that everyone was terrified to have. I felt like it [the exhibition] was a way to start thinking about all of the judgements in society across the board.” Lawless made the decision to bring the exhibition to Anfield, Liverpool.
Carden’s offices are a regular exhibition space for Dead Pigeon Gallery, a roaming art gallery whose mission is to bring contemporary art to communities and individuals who may not traditionally engage with it.
At the launch, Dominique Walker made an observation: “What I’ve noticed since I’ve entered the room is that I’m the only person of colour. That is not the case on the walls and I think what we need to do is to replicate some of the things that are in the pictures and bring some of that to life.” The subject of the pieces are a celebration of diversity through powerful, vibrant photographic portraits and images of everyday people doing everyday things.
In the current climate, discussions about identity can devolve into polarising and inflammatory rhetoric. Walker acknowledges the challenges: “There’s always a risk when you do anything around anti-racism work or focus on identity, but we have to be courageous in these times and have discussions about differences.”
The conversations have begun. A man came into the office and noted that the image of two young men kissing on a train was “something you see all the time now.” It started a conversation that would never have taken place had the image not been on the wall.
As well as initiating a dialogue with constituents, the exhibition has also started a relationship between Carden’s office and the Anthony Walker Foundation. There are plans to invite schools in the area and engage young people in work around inclusion.
The exhibition will be open to the public by appointment. But mainly it’s an exclusive exhibition for the people who come to Carden’s offices. It’s an opportunity for people who may not ordinarily go to an art exhibition, to engage with art and the issues that the images raise – in a safe space.
Walker says, “These are delicate conversations but if people don’t feel a part of them then there’s no progress that’s going to be made and hopefully the photos are the start of the conversation for that.”
Ain’t no time to hate is running at Dan Carden’s offices for the foreseeable future.
Follow @deadpigeongallery on Instagram for dates of when it will open to the public.
Find out more about the Anthony Walker Foundation anthonywalkerfoundation.com