Liverpool Cyclops


Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool Biennale. 17-19 September 2010

A three-day manifestation in the projects space of the Bluecoat and on the streets around it. The hooded Cyclops arrives unseen each morning from the decayed haunted grandeur of the Adelphi hotel to perform for eight hours in the locked space, when it is finished it is driven back through the dark streets by a band of paparazzi like aggressors. They use cameras and sticks to jostle and drive  it along. Members of the public join in or take offence. Video of this wrangling is brought back to the gallery space and projected vertically down onto a bed sheet on the floor. Other such sheets cover or delineate objects in the twilight space. The audience pass above on a balcony and look down into the bear-pit like arena. Directly beneath the balcony is a low bed like stretcher. Coins cover its surface and the floor around as if dropped by previous visitors; for luck or maybe to awaken the sleeping creature (even though it is never seen lying there) 

The Cyclops prowls the space and operates a number of instruments and devices. The eye section of his face is always covered. A circular table is covered with masks, glasses , tape and concealing hoods. Some of which are worn then peeled off into an illuminated font–like bowl of water. A camera hides in the plinth that supports it and looks up into the floating, drowning one-eyed rubber, and then projects it enormously magnified across the floor. 

The Cyclops continually changed its costume between a donkey jacket, jeans and boots and a shiny grey lounge-lizard suit.

Occasionally the Cyclops plays droning music on a hand cranked electric hurdy gurdy of its own invention. Sometimes it is disturbed by a rotating spine in long wooden box. Sometimes a small winged puppet flapped its wings to draw attention away from the Cyclops.


The latex rubber Cyclops masks made by Simon Lewis never reached their full potential in Liverpool, but found their real meaning back in the studio in Oxford. The photographer David Tolley wanted to test out a camera and suggested me wearing the mask might make a good ‘test’ subject. After a few moments he became very excited by the results and switched to another camera. This was the beginning of a fruitful partnership. The Cyclops pictures shown here are just a few of the grotesques we made together.

There is prior design, rehearsal or postproduction photo shopping involved.

They are pure performance made for camera.