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Art & Activism – The Next Generation

WHEN Scottie Press got tagged in an image on Instagram, it came as a huge surprise to discover that Edition 445 had been transformed — into an item of clothing — complete with headlines such as ‘Milllions Owed to Communities by Developers’, ‘In Our Liverpool Home?’ and ‘Taking Back Their High Streets’, printed across a full length dress.

And when we contacted  the creator of this eye-catching frock — 17 year old student Maeve Thompson — she told us: ‘I picked Scottie Press up when I saw it in News from Nowhere. I just think it is just such a unique medium for reporting what’s going now.

‘I was talking to my dad and all his family were from Vauxhall and lived off Scottie Road. My mum grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles so I’ve been brought up to be politically conscious.”

Maeve also talked about  her concerns surrounding Liverpool’s transforming landscape – which has led to residents of neighborhoods boarding the city centre, like Vauxhall and Dingle, being priced out. And she believes community newspapers play a vital role in bringing these issues into the public eye. “I think it’s important and gives people a bit of a reality check. That’s what drew me to it.”

“I think if we were setting up anywhere else, other than Liverpool, we would have had such a hard time doing it. But people want to see young people doing things and are willing to help them."

So the 100% silk dress, bought in Oxfam, became the canvas for Maeve’s artistic and political statement. “I used some fabric markers and traced through the headlines from the issue,’ she said.  ‘It took me a long time but it worked well and I was happy with it. I think there is something to be said because it is on a vintage piece – and it’s about the heritage of Liverpool.”

Currently studying A-Levels in English, History and Politics at Calderstones school, the aspiring creative says: “It was just a personal project, I’m building up my portfolio to go to university but my art is kinda habitual. I just do it whenever I want to. I’m working on a piece at the moment for the 24 Kitchen Street campaign. It’s a football scarf that says ‘Save 24 Kitchen Street’ on it. I think the culture of support in the city comes in so many different forms and I think to put it in a format people can understand might raise the profile.

“I also run something called Antisteel, which is a young persons event for Liverpool, aimed at 16-25 year olds. We do exhibitions and event nights. We actually had one in January in MAKE on Regent Rd, it went really well with the help of the people there and seems to have gotten quite a lot of support.

Scottie Press Dress

“People want see what is going on with artists who either aren’t in university or just don’t have the means to get an exhibition. It kind of gets to the point where most galleries want you to have previous exhibition experience — so getting to that first step is so hard.

Me and my fiend Carla Owens both run Antisteel, We’re both trying to programme stuff  around school time. We are both really interested in galleries and have built quite a good network from it. That’s how I met Carl, through our volunteer work at the Tate.

“But it got to a point where we felt they didn’t represent the community or the young people who worked for them too well. So we thought we’d have a go at it ourselves and it was widely successful. We got so much support, we got a £500 grant from Awesome Liverpool foundation, which made such a difference.

“I think if we were setting up anywhere else, other than Liverpool, we would have had such a hard time doing it. But people want to see young people doing things and are willing to help them.

Every piece we got for the exhibition was through an open call that we put out on our Instagram, We got upwards of 45 submissions, but we couldn’t host them all because we are still at such an early stage. But it just shows how much needs to be done for young people in this city.

“And if it takes two 17 year olds to do it, then that’s how it will happen.”

Maeve's photograph from her Antisteel event