Matt Retallick Research Questionnaire 7: Luke Skiffington

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Name:  Luke Skiffington

Location:  Liverpool

Website:  www.lukeskiffington.com

Instagram: @luke_skiffington

1. What is your relationship to Merseyside? 

We only moved here in summer 2019, so I’m still a tourist! I have some extended family from the area, so I have many memories of visits up here.

2. How does Merseyside impact or shape your practice? 

It’s too early to tell yet but I’m sensing changes. As much as anyone can at the moment, I’m enjoying exploring the city and its surroundings. A change of environment has been refreshing for us in so many ways, even in the shitstorm of a global pandemic.

3. What are the positives and negatives of living and working in Merseyside? 

Liverpool has such amazing history in so many areas, not least its museums. Alongside this, there seems to be a lot of dynamic collectives and individuals  determined to make things happen, often without much support. It feels as though there’s space here to do things, physically and mentally, if that makes any sense!? Having talked to a few artists, I think the city could benefit from a critically engaged commercial gallery (or more) that represent work by Merseyside and international artists. I realise this is wrapped up in economics and potential ‘markets’, but the area definitely has lots of artists and buildings that would make incredible galleries!

4. What does independence / being independent mean to you? 

Being your own boss, the ability to work on different projects and set aside time for family. That almost sounds like an artist?

5. Is Merseyside a good place to be independent? 

I’m not sure yet, I’ve been here such a short time! It definitely seems like somewhere that you can grow/change without too much pressure or noise.

6. What are your favourite examples of independence / the independent in Merseyside?

There seems to be a lot of great independent organisations like Make, the Bluecoat or the Royal Standard, amongst many others. ‘Refractive Pool’ are doing interesting things, exploring contemporary painting based practice in the area. Check out their blog at www.refractivepool.com

7. What is your favourite cultural organisation in Merseyside and why?

Tough question! My favourites change with the wind. Pre-lockdowns, I went to a few shows at Output, a gallery who seem engaged with local artists. Like a lot of people I can’t wait to see some art in the ‘real’ again. I’m looking forward to seeing the John Moores painting prize and some of the exhibitions that are part of the Liverpool Biennial 2021. I’m also itching to hear live music again! 

8. What is your favourite place in Merseyside and why? 

As a newbie, this is the first time I’ve lived near the ocean! I love the docks, the waterfront and the beach, even on a stormy day. I also like the outdoor spaces, the ramps and gardens around the Metropolitan Cathedral. I’ve always been a sucker for modernist architecture. 

9. If you could make Merseyside different, what would you change, and why? 

I suppose this is more of a wish list based on what I’ve noticed so far. More studios are definitely needed, also galleries, theatres, music venues and taco trucks. Also, I think all cities should have outdoor public spaces solely for art; sculpture, performance, film, whatever. Unlike everything else in our environment, art doesn’t have or need a specified, easily measurable use and for me thats its best feature. Utopian perhaps, but maybe we should (especially now) be celebrating ambiguity, nuance and allowing artists greater freedom without restrictions. Easy to say though, much harder to do.

10. Describe Merseyside to someone who’s never visited

Sometimes cold up top, always bubbling under the surface.

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