Jeremy Deller: With a Little Help From My Friends, presented by Metal
Artistic laboratory Metal presents a new artwork by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, as part of a citywide celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
By 1967 The Beatles were the most famous people in the world; no doubt a totally alienating experience considering their youth, naturally they depended greatly on each other and on a few trusted friends for support.
The relationship between the individual and society is a powerful theme in the work of Jeremy Deller, as seen in his recent take on this year’s general election, with provocative posters around London stating “strong and stable my arse”. For this new project, in response to the classic Beatles song, Deller has made two public art commissions that examine the nature of friendship and self-sacrifice, not just with those we know, but also between strangers, at a time when parts of society are struggling to live in unity.
A new, previously top secret commission took place for one day only, on Friday 2 June. Deller, in collaboration with Metal, worked with local building firm Penny Lane Builders, to bring small acts of generosity to those in need. Inspired by the words of With a Little Help From My Friends, Deller helped “friends” across the city, when they needed it most. From 8.30am until 5pm, the Penny Lane team responded to 27 emergency calls from across the city, carrying out electrical and plumbing work, as well as handyman services such as joinery
Upon completion of these works, in place of a bill, residents took part in an intimate moment of exchange, receiving a limited edition artwork courtesy of Jeremy Deller, as a keepsake of this act of kindness and memento of the festival.
Gerard McEvoy, Director of Penny Lane Builders says “As a family-run local business we employ over 300 local people and undertake repairs and maintenance to over 25,000 homes a year across the North West. We have a real commitment to corporate social responsibility and believe in giving back to the communities we work in by supporting local community projects and initiatives. This project was a great way to provide a helping hand and proliferate the spirit of friendship that is embodied in this iconic song to commemorate the 50th anniversary.”
Shaun Curtis, Director at Metal Liverpool says, “Metal is an artistic laboratory that seeks to nurture certain creative practices in the belief that they will have a positive impact on civil and civic society. In the context of this collaboration with Deller, and his response to ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, Metal has sought to inspire a sense of communal solidarity, and create a reminder that despite our time’s pervasive rhetoric of division, we are not on our own if we choose to be there for others.”
This new work was presented in addition to a series of billboards and fly poster sites (currently on display until 16 June), featuring Jeremy’s tribute to Brian Epstein. A public artwork intervening in the daily lives of city dwellers, commuters and tourists, Deller’s iconic image of The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and the words “Brian Epstein died for you” can be seen in every corner of the city including prime sites at Lime Street station and in the neighbourhoods of Edge Hill, Kensington, Wavertree and Toxteth.
With a Little Help from My Friends runs from 25 May – 16 June at sites across Liverpool. Jeremy Deller’s Future Station event takes place at Metal on 15 June.