A month ago we asked you to reimagine the future of The Lyceum and now we have an answer.
The Lyceum on Bold Street was once a gentlemen’s club, as well as the first lending library in Europe. The Neo-classical building was built in the years 1800-1802 and was established as an alternative meeting place to the rowdy coffee houses for several of Liverpool’s abolitionists, such as William Roscoe. The building has always had a rebellious feel to it and this was only heightened when the Liverpool branch of the Occupy movement chose this building as the place to protest. With such a strong history, it is incredibly sad to see the shadow of its former self. The once glossy coliseum-style podiums have gathered dust. The once bustling steps are now shelter for the homeless and the abandoned divinity has become too hard to not notice. It is easy to get distracted by the stats of how many new places are opening, but what about the places closing or staying closed?
A plan, that we’ve been reassured has been in motion for some time, has gathered much more impetus after our article where we collated your ideas for the future of the building. Liverpool BID Company have commissioned local artists to reflect ‘the human story of the war’ in time for the centenary of The Battle of the Somme, by using an archive of letters from soldiers to their loved ones held at Liverpool John Moore’s University. Letters and photographs from World War I are to be used in a poignant art installation that will transform an iconic Liverpool venue into a giant canvas. The giant commemorative artwork is to animate The Lyceum and hopefully, be the start of a purposeful future.
Designed by The Sound Agents: John Campbell and Moira Kenny, the installation will see five 14m high panels fixed between the building’s Doric columns and will also incorporate a poppy motif as a tribute to the fallen as well as a salute to the Weeping Window installation that adorned St George’s Hall, which attracted more than 350,000 people over the winter. The project was devised as part of Liverpool’s Healthy High Street programme, which aims to reduce the number of vacant units in the city centre, and subject to planning approval could be installed by mid-May.
Michael Doran, Communications Manager for Liverpool BID Company, which is co-funding the project via a levy raised on city centre businesses, said:
“There are so many untold stories about World War I and the reaction to the poppy installation at St George’s Hall inspired us to look at how we could bring them to life. “Once we heard about the letters archive and knowing The Lyceum was a former post office there was only one place we wanted to do this and we’re delighted that the owners have given it their full support. It will provide a perfect canvas to tell the truly astounding story of how our soldiers were able to communicate under unimaginable conditions, which in our digital age seems like a different universe.”