Tomo (James Thompson)


Tomo Photo c. McCoy Wynne

Graffiti artist & painter Tomo (

Tomo’s work can be seen as a kind of storytelling through the materials he uses. The work is informed by a strong DIY ethic and he strives to make the best he can with whatever is available, often working with discarded items.

Q & A – Tomo

Q: Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Tomo, I grew up mostly in sleepy suburban Liverpool in a neighbourhood known as ‘Two Dog’s Fighting’, my Pop’s is a Joiner and my Mum a Social Worker which is probably why I’m alright with my hands and sometimes with people. I like being still and also being on the move but I normally find myself alternating between these states.

Q:Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

There’s a few different things going on but mainly I like to think about my process as a kind of alchemy, especially when I’m working with reclaimed or discarded materials. Sometimes I even think of it as akin to music sampling, taking things from different era’s and areas, mixing, chopping and changing. Although there’s a bit of me in there of course, the human element is probably what makes it interesting.

Q: How/when did you start making art?

I always made art since as long as I can remember. As a kid I was always drawing and my family encouraged me. When I was a teenager I discovered graffiti but I kept that one more to myself, like you do. I’d still watch Watercolour Challenge but I liked the adrenalin aspect of graffiti. Later on I went through the education system and studied graphic design which was great but then I fell in with the wrong crowd and soon enough I ended up making more personal work.

Q: What brought you to Liverpool?

I grew up here, although often I venture afar, even when my finances require me to improvise. Last time I was brought to Liverpool I think it was via a car.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

Everywhere really, I find a lot of ideas in normal everyday life, in the so called mundane, if you look beneath the surface there’s all kinds of jewels and gems waiting to be discovered..

Q: What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

There’s a good diverse mix of people here, a lot of movement and you can feel that over time different forces have shaped the city. There’s always something to do here if you want but there’s still enough quiet to be found which I think is very important. Compared to some of the bigger cities one can end up in the pace here is quite slow and this suits me well as I have quite a slow pace myself. Also it hasn’t reached a point where any place feels culturally over-saturated; you can see gaps and missing pieces and then find a way of infusing them with your own energy. The negative space is equally as important as the positive space. I love exploring all those neglected sites and derelict buildings too, here one can find a wild untamed energy and maybe a little glimpse of freedom.

Q: What would your dream project be?

Anything where my work can have a positive effect on people or help them see things differently. I like it when there’s a chance to get through to people who would not normally take an interest in art. That’s one of the reasons why I occasionally work outside in the street. This Liverpool Art Prize thing is a kind of dream project too. Not because of the prize element but because I’m considered worthy to share the shortlist with a very talented group of creatives, all of whom more experienced than myself. Recently I heard that the folk at Metal routinely walk around the train platform and invite commuters into the gallery, this got me rather excited.

I’m talking reality though aren’t I? A ‘dream’ project would be me stumbling through the darkness of a strange far away city installing artwork on government buildings. Just when I’m about to get caught a limousine getaway vehicle picks me up and the driver informs the police that it can’t be me, because I’m now wearing a designer suit and am being escorted to an expensive restaurant to meet a lady-friend. The next day I fly into another country where a man meets me at the airport with my name on a card. We travel by horse to a secret location, some great art gets made, then there’s a party in my hotel room, everyone is invited and we smash it up like rock stars and the telly gets thrown out the window.

Q: Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?

Depends what you mean by support? I work with a sort of D.I.Y. ethic and the kind of support I’ve been fortunate enough to receive is that from likeminded individuals in similar positions to myself. If you can get even a small bunch of people together and share skills you can develop something much more powerful and wholesome than if you were just given a cheque. I think Liverpool is great for its creative support networks and a lot of the time things grow from the bottom upward very successfully.

Q: What do you like/what would you change about the Liverpool art scene?

It’s great, lot’s of energy, although maybe it could be more radical? No one likes this bullshit government we didn’t even vote for, and a bit of creative muscle wouldn’t go astray. Something to think about…

Q: What can we expect from the work you’ll show at the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition?

It will be like the work you’ve already seen but more ambitious, I’m going deeper, you’ll have to wait and see…

Q:  What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

Wolstenholme Creative Space I hear is planning some exciting stuff for Liverpool Art Month, a little bird tells me. I also heard that Liverpool’s Hip Hop scene will be starting to wake up again after a long rest. Most interestingly though, last year a man in a pub told me that this year on the 15th of March at precisely 3.30am – everybody’s level of consciousness will suddenly become elevated, no effort required! If it really happens that would be nice.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I never really think that much ahead, I could be dead or in jail, or even living the dream.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

They wouldn’t be quite so hidden if I told you.


Alan Dunn

Alan Dunn Photo c. McCoy Wynne

Wallasey-based artist Alan Dunn (

Alan compiles CDs of artists’ audio works on themes such as the Mersey Tunnels, revolution or numbers, with contributors including Pete Wylie, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Carol Kaye.


Q: Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and brought up in Glasgow by an engineer and a secretary who ran evening classes in art in the local community centre. I grew up loving art and football, in that order, and my teens were soundtracked by the Liverpool of the Bunnymen, Wah!, Teardrops and OMD and by watching Dalglish and Hansen on TV. They never performed that well for Scotland so I got the idea that Liverpool must be a magic city.

I studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago then left Scotland in 1991 to explore a few different cities. I ended up in Merseyside in 1994, with Brigitte and my two kids Heidi and Zak, one a red, one a blue.

Apart from that, I was Under-13 Player of the year in 1981, the first gig I went to was the Cocteau Twins at Glasgow Empire in 1983 and my desert island discs would include ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and John Cage’s ‘4’33’.

Q: Can you tell us a little more about the ethos or thinking behind your work?

My work tends to be free, accessible, somehow refer to the ‘real world’ I see around me and usually take a few years to make an impact. I do a lot of collaborate work too and spent six years as lead artist with tenantspin at FACT and developed content with high rise pensioners, the Communist Party of Liverpool, ethical bankers, Mike McCartney, Margi Clarke, Jayne Casey, UFO spotters, John ‘Spoons’ McGuirk and Bill Drummond. The Rooney billboard I did at the Bluecoat in 2004 while he was still at Everton sums up what interests me, making works about things we find on our doorstep but seeing them from new angles. I’ve been more recently working with sound and I put together the ‘Soundtrack for a Mersey Tunnel’ CD while travelling on the 433 bus every day through the Wallasey tunnel. It was a collection of tracks that lasted exactly 2’33, the length of time it takes to cruise through the tunnel. I worked with Chris Watson who does David Attenborough’s sound recording, I arranged to record poets in the tunnels when they were closed and set up a choir of tunnel workers. I’ve also done a CD for the Williamson Tunnels and one about revolution, one about the colour grey and one about the number 4. I raise funds for these CDs and give them away free of charge around the world. The Mersey Tunnel ones for example were given away from the tollbooths.

Q: How/when did you start making art?

My dream was always to go to the imposing building at the top of the hill in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, the one up behind the cinema that was Charles Rennie Macintosh’s Glasgow School of Art. I was actually working for Britoil on a school placement writing computer programmes for oilrigs, but my heart wasn’t in it so I followed my ambition of going to art school. I spent six years at Glasgow School of Art, surrounded by future Turner Prize winners like Douglas Gordon and Martin Boyce and some of the radical community artists of the early 1970s. It was hard work, challenging and genuinely life-changing; we were in the studio from 8am-8pm virtually every day. There was a strong work ethic and sense of not waiting for people to offer openings, but making your own instead. When I was 19 or so my gran marched me into Easterhouse Housing Office and said ‘my grandson is great at drawing, give him some work’, which they did and I was soon cutting my teeth in community art. For ten years after graduating I did workshops with the Big Issue, Wirral Drug Service, European Special Olympics, libraries across Manchester and primary schools in Bootle.

Q: What brought you to Liverpool?

I came here because of work and a real curiosity about the city. Since moving here the city has been incredibly influential for me and very supportive and provocative; it keeps me working hard and it keeps me grounded.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

I was taught to be alert in the gaps between home and work. I also get inspiration from listening, working with people like Chris Watson, lecturing in contemporary art three days a week at Leeds Metropolitan University to 20 year olds, parenting a 12 and 14 year old, reading, the Internet and other artists such as Bill Drummond or Yoko Ono. I recently had a short train journey with Liverpool artist John O’Shea and hearing about his work was very inspirational.

Q:  What do you find inspirational about Liverpool?

It never seems quite finished, there’s always flux, building sites, projects coming and projects going, people leaving, people arriving, it feels like one big urban station under construction. I also like the loyalty of some people that have been in their jobs for a long time, such as Bryan Biggs at the Bluecoat, people that have really given a lot to the city. I also like how people that were highly influential in the 1980s are still contributing to the cultural landscape too.

Q: What would your dream project be?

I don’t think in terms of dream projects – if I have an idea I go all out to make it happen. There are however some projects that got away and I recently wrote an article for Ben Parry’s book ‘Cultural Hijack’ outlining some of them such as the billboard artworks that would appear in a Brookside script or my 6am tightrope walkers in Bold Street.

Q: Do you think there is enough support for emerging artists?

I think you have to make your own support sometimes and Liverpool has always had incredibly interesting energetic artists and creatives. What is always useful is for Councils and private agencies to trust emerging artists with funds and it’s crucial that influential people sitting in seats of influence (eg funding agencies) actually get to know some of the artists who apply for funds.

Q: What do you like/what would you change about the Liverpool art scene?

I like that it is very diverse and not just focused on one particular visual arts venue or scene. I also like some of the ideas emerging from the Wirral and St. Helens in recent years from artists such as Phil McHugh or Claire Potter. There is also a really interesting young Liverpool artist called Michael Jenkins who is studying at Leeds just now, he produced some work for the recent ‘Democratic Promenade’ exhibition at the Bluecoat. His piece was around the tradition of ‘sleeping on the rope’ and on the opening night, both Michael’s dad and Ken Dodd shared some time on the rope. I really like those cultural moments and experienced a lot of them while working with the sadly missed John ‘Spoons’ McGuirk.

Q: What can we expect from the work you’ll show at the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition?

I’ll be showing a set of seven CDs that I have put together, allowing people to hear rare and amazing material from locals artists, David Bowie, Russian poet Irina Ratushinskaya, ex-Pogue Jem Finer, Mexican rappers, youtube amateurs and revolutionaries. There will also be display cases of related objects, including a fragment from Apollo 8 that was flown around the moon in 1968 and an illustration of the Mersey Tunnels from a 1951 Eagle comic. I am also aiming to develop a new live performance piece with Pete Wylie & Jeff Young for the opening night.

Q: What other exhibitions/shows/events are you looking forward to in 2012?

I’m looking forward to the European Championships, spending a couple of days at Bill Drummond’s Curfew Tower in Antrim, a family holiday in Cyprus, Documenta 13 in Kassel and I’m developing a big project with Jeff Young for this year’s Open Golf Championship in Lytham.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

About to turn 50.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

I am great at Lego.


Nominations for the Liverpool Art Prize 2012 are now CLOSED…

Nominations for the 2012 Liverpool Art Prize open on Monday 5 September 2011 and close on Friday 25 November 2011.


The Liverpool Art Prize is a competition of contemporary art open to professional artists based in or born in the Liverpool City Region of the United Kingdom.

2012 will be the 5th Liverpool Art Prize. The exhibition of 4 shortlisted artists will take place at Metal at Edge Hill Station.

Please read the guidelines before making your nominations:

  • You can nominate yourself.
  • You can nominate up to three artists.
  • The artists needs to be born in OR currently based in Liverpool City Region (this includes the boroughs of Liverpool, Wirral, St Helens, Knowsley, Halton and Sefton)
  • The artist needs to have exhibited or realised a project or piece of work in the previous year (June 2010- Present) and there needs to be evidence of this online in order to complete your nomination.
  • Artists who have been shortlisted for the prize in the previous two years are not legible for the prize.
  • Artists will need to be available to exhibit as part of the Liverpool Art Prize 2012 (26th April – 9th June).
  • Nominated artists need to have made a demonstrable contribution or impact on the Liverpool art scene and to have developed a unique and individual art practice.
  • Nominations are accepted from all artistic disciplines.


Artist Link Nominee
Adrian Jeans anon
Alan Dunn Roger Cliffe-Thompson, Rita Griffiths, James Quin
Anna Ketskemety Roisin Hyland
Arthur Roberts Barbara Jones, Jacqueline Roberts, Jane Hughes
Birgit Deubner Sally Medlyn
Brigitte Jurack David Jacques, Bernadette O’Toole, Sara-Jayne Parsons, Dorothea Muecke-Herzberg + 3 anon
Cherie Grist Eliza Brittles
Chiz Turnross anon
Claire Weetman Claire Weetman
Craig Atkinson Kevin Hunt
David and Eirin Hallangen-Lake Kee Garden, Claes Borg, Jeff Greenbank
David Gough Emma Gough
David Sinclair David Sinclair
Deborah Jayne Bennett Deborah Moore
Derek Murray & Curtis Watt Derek Murray
E.Scott Jones Helen Parslew
Helen Louise Stead Helen Louise Stead
Horse (Gary McGarvey) anon
James Tomo Priya Sharma, Tony Knox
Jason Thompson Arthur Roberts
Jemma Egan Hannah Jones
John Davies Sally Medlyn
John Hogan John Hogan
John O’Shea anon
Jonathan Tooze Ruth Dillon
Julie Dodd Linda Muat, Carol Ramsay, Alison Bailey Smith, Shaun Dodd
Julieann O’Malley anon
Kevin Hunt anon, Andrew Bracey, Anna Francis, Glen Stoker, Michael Aitken
Leo Fitzmaurice anon, Kevin Hunt
Linny Venables Simon Poulter
Madeline Hall Simon Poulter
Marvin Blair Marvin Blair, Julie Robertson,  several others
Mike Carney anon
Mike Carney & Jon Barraclough (collaboration) Emily Speed
Nicki McCubbing anon, Kevin Hunt
Pete Carr Sam Bytheway
Pete Clarke Tony Knox
Robyn Woolston Claire Weetman, Carol Ramsay, Becs Andrews, Joe Stathers-Tracey, anon
Ruth Dillon Tony Knox
Sam Venables anon
Sean Dagnall anon
Stephen King Patrick Fox
STOK Mak Trades
Tabitha Jussa Josie Jenkins
Tom Palin Paul Fred Kelly
Tom Ross Tom Ross
Tony Knox Emma Jackson, Nadia Cheung, Simon Curran, Tony Lavender
Wendy Williams Jet Pascua



Brimark Signs

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Camp and Furnace

Camp and Furnace logoWith a pop-up, fold-down, drive-through ethos, Camp and Furnace is a new kind of venue in the heart of the Baltic Triangle.
Events space, bar/eatery, photographic studio, nightclub and caravan park hotel, our programme of events include art installations, exhibitions and performances; theatre, cabaret, comedy and music; street food markets, dinners and food slams. And that’s just for starters.
We’re very happy to be involved with this year’s Liverpool Art Prize and we look forward to continuing our support and promotion of the city’s cultural offer.

Camp and Furnace
67 Greenland Street
Liverpool L1 0BY

Beesley & Fildes Ltd

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Metal was founded by Jude Kelly OBE in 2002 and was created as an artistic laboratory to champion the need for continual investment in artistic investigation and the development of innovative ideas that could shift the thinking in the UK cultural sector.

We provide innovative, multi-disciplinary residency space for artists from the UK and overseas in Liverpool and Southend on Sea.

Alongside providing space for artists and thinkers to develop their ideas and further the philosophy of their work, we are interested in how this artistic process, and the practice of artists can input into, and potentially influence political and social issues of the day.

Through our artistic programme we draw out evidence and ideas for a better understanding of the artist’s role in civic life, and ensure that these are shared with a wide and diverse set of partners.

These ideas are showcased and disseminated on a regular basis through residencies, exhibitions, events, performance, discussion and publications.