In April 1985, children in Liverpool and cities across the country took to the streets in an impromptu strike against the Conservative Government’s Youth Training Scheme. The Liverpool strike was the largest in the country, with 10,000 children participating.
This June, as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016, artist Koki Tanaka will revisit the event by recreating the Liverpool protest. Bringing together the original participants, their children and current students, Tanaka will lead a walk through the city from St George’s Hall to the Pier Head, retracing the original route. The event will be filmed and shown at Open Eye Gallery throughout this year’s contemporary art festival, running from 9 July until 16 October.
On Sunday 5 June, Tanaka invites citizens to join him at St Georges Hall from 1pm – the time the original march started – where he will begin a walk through the city. The invite is open to those who took part in the original strike in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow and beyond, their children, current students, and those interested in being part of recreating this iconic movement. Participants are invited to bring placards with text or images revealing their current social or political concerns.
Koki Tanaka said, “The energy, joy and optimistic feeling in the images of the march really struck me. I wanted to work with those involved to look back at what happened, and wonder if any have children and how they feel about the current social situation in the UK, in particular the current Work Experience Scheme, which is not dissimilar from the Youth Training Scheme of 1985.”
As well as walking the original route, original participants will share their memories of 1985 and reflect on how the strike relates to the present and future. The artist will also be passing on the role of interviewing participants to students. He said, “I’m interested to see if the students of today ask similar questions to those of 1985 and how each group sees the situation today – the future the students of 1985 were fighting for.”
Connecting Liverpool’s past, present and future is central to the narrative of Liverpool Biennial 2016. This year 42 international artists will create new work to be presented in locations across the city organised as a story narrated in several episodes. For the first time, children are working together with artists to create ambitious projects.