A collection of pieces by pop artist James Wilkinson has gone on display at Strawberry Field, the iconic location in south Liverpool immortalised by the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever. Tony McDonough reports
Pop artist James Wilkinson has created an art collection that will go on display at Strawberry Field – the south Liverpool location immortalised in the 1967 Beatles hit Strawberry Fields Forever.
Called Lennon Wired, the exhibition features a collection of art pieces using the microphone leads used by John Lennon during the recording of his solo hit Imagine in 1971. Each piece in the collection features intricate segments from seven microphone leads.
James acquired the leads in the sale of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Tittenhurst Park estate from 1969-1971. Every piece uses wire, board and staples as its primary materials and plays homage to John Lennon’s eclectic style, embedded with artefacts from the subject’s life. It will go on display at Strawberry Field until October.
Strawberry Field is a property in the Woolton area of Liverpool. It included a Victorian house that was originally built as a private residence. It was acquired by the Salvation Army in the 1930 and converted into a children’s home.
Growing up nearby, John Lennon had played in the grounds of the house, which was eventually demolished in 1973 and replaced with purpose-built units. Its red-painted entrance gates became a place of pilgrimage for legions of Beatles fans.
In 2000 the gates were stolen and sold to an unsuspecting antiques dealer. Once he discovered they were genuine he returned them and they now stand in the grounds. In 2019 Strawberry field became a visitor attraction with a cafe and shop as well as a training centre for young people with learning difficulties.
Lennon Wired has only been displayed once in the UK, and all 11 pieces will be available to purchase for the duration of their time at Strawberry Field. For each item sold, at least 10% of the purchase price will be donated to The Salvation Army or The Salvation Army Social Work Trust.
James said: “I chose Strawberry Field because it was John’s sanctuary as a child. Because it continues the theme of love and peace that he wanted so much. I created the artworks so that the message of peace and love can now be carried visually with the leads that resonated with the message from John and Yoko in 1971.”
Profits from the visitor experience and commercial operations go towards keeping the gates open for the good of the local community, and to help fund Steps at Strawberry Field, a series of programmes aimed at those with learning difficulties or other barriers to employment.
Sue Harvey, commercial manager at Strawberry Field, added: “Visitors will love our new Lennon Wired exhibition. It is a celebration of John’s artistic greatness, with each piece of art a testament to his message of love, peace and harmony which flowed through the leads and wires over 40 years ago into his seminal anthem of peace.”