The first of the Blackie's Rainbow projects - inspired by the political debate of the time on regenerating the inner cities, by the work of the artist Patrick Hughes (www.patrickhughes.co.uk/films.htm) and by the Blackie's own tradition of public art, took place in the summer of 1978.
The Blackie put on some form of summer cultural activity outside of the building from as early as 1969 (Lorry Theatre) - this was called 'summer theatre' but was just as likely to be a public art event as a performance. Inner City Rainbows was part of that tradition.
The final idea was simple: seven rainbows on seven buildings in seven days. So we would create seven rainbows, lightly but robustly made from aluminium on a wooden frame - between 15 and 80ft long, which would be erected high up on inner city buildings on seven consecutive nights. So in the morning people would be greeted by the rainbows which would appear to have arrived as if by magic. Like many simple ideas making it a reality was complicated.
1. Twin Rainbows on the Mersey Docks and Harbours Building - Pierhead
2. Powerbow on Lime Street Chambers (next to Lime Street Station).
3. Birth Of A Rainbow - Capricorn Boutique in Casey Street
4. Rainbow Bouquet on the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun in Mathew Street.
5. Muscial Rainbow on Rushworths and Drapers in Whitechapel
6. Rainbow Art on the back of the new Annex of The Walker Art - viewed from Gerrard Gardens
7. Tube of Rainbow Paint on the China Town side of The Blackie
The project was led by Judy Bates (now Gough) and Bill Harpe. The team included designers (to come up with the ideas ), engineers (to work out how to make the rainbows and most importantly ensure that they stayed up), makers (who actually created and painted the rainbows) and the erectors (those who put the rainbows up). Of course being the Blackie many people did more than one job. Then there was all the back room work - getting permission to put the works up, getting the materials and tools, recruiting the people to make it happen, and organising publicity (made more difficult since we did not want anyone to know who was behind the Rainbows until the last one was up).
The team from the Blackie staff was Judy & Bill plus Martin Brems, Neil Johnson and Stevie Smith; Blackie volunteers Hew Currie, Anne Riggleson, Liz Allen, Henrick Moller, Dominque Ohlssen, Hans Jensen, Pierrre Le Besco, Anne Jensen, Kevin Noh Rovens, John and Jimmy Klieve; and Blackie youngsters Tina Ignacio and Margaret McHale. This team was joined by the sculptor Fred Bushe, community artist Pauline Kam, engineers Charles Stuart and John Proctor Harpe (Bill's dad), makers, painters and erectors, Ronnie Barker, Tessa Chisolm, George Eaton (Slim), Frank Murphy, John Szarkiewicz, Ted Sallinger and Ronnie Taylor.
Sadly since the rainbows were mainly put up through the night we have only one picture of them being erected though we have photographic coverage of them all in place. BBC North in Manchester filmed the first three Rainbows to be put up but we do not have the film. Nonetheless there was press coverage.