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Stand and deliver

You've probably got about a week to seek it out, then Bill Drummond's latest work will have vanished from the streets forever – at least the print version. Spotted it yet?

Published on March 7th 2007.

Stand and deliver

Capital of Culture year: Tall ships or a taller order?

No one ever said that putting it together was going to be easy, but, just in case anyone was in doubt, Bill Drummond has served Notice on the city of Liverpool, in the form of a poster; a nudge that the bleedin' obvious is, well, only a cliché away.

His Challenge to Liverpool, which can currently be seen on flyposting sites all over town, is a long checklist - one or two dos, but mainly dont's - for anyone involved in the conception of Liverpool's main event, whose live birth is now only nine months away.

Normally the ex-KLF man (his associations with Liverpool, its art and popular music are way too long and legion to go on about here) flogs similar works off through his Penkiln Burn website, for anything from a tenner up to £10,000. But not this time.

Of a single print run of one hundred, 50 of his numbered Challenge posters have been pasted up in the city centre. The rest? Well they have been fashioned into boats (above) and launched, flotilla like, on the high Mersey tide, of course. The version you see is a copy of the PDF which went to the printers. It is published here, with the artist's permission, for the first time online.

Bill Drummond's idea came from an involvement with the Creative Universe show, presently on at the Tate, for which, last August, he was asked to write an essay for its catalogue.

In the resulting piece, Liverpool Will Never Let You Down, he explains: “As I walked up Wood Street between the Open Eye and FACT an idea started to evolve. I think it must have been all the tatty posters advertising themed club nights that kickstarted the idea.”

The text of the poster would urge a happening that would “tap into the true soul of the city and be something that has never been seen before”.

And, as its creator says: “It’s a tall order, but Liverpool deserves it and owes it to itself to do it.”

But why send the other 50, folded up, on an adventure that would surely be perilous on the fast Mersey currents?

Bill Drummond explains that he did so “in the hope that they will drift out with the tide and sail the seven seas and, in time, land on distant shores and in that way the knowledge of my challenge will reach the world at large.”

We thought it would be a shame if this fine and timely remimder was lost, forever, under a sea of Garlands posters, or simply under a sea.

So here it is. Just in case we forget.

Boat photo © Simon Mills

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