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Peter Liversidge in Topsy Turvey (2010)

Pavement Gallery presents Topsy Turvy (2010) by Peter Liversidge in an exhibition opening in June 2021. Liversidge’s works begin on a typewriter, as proposals for possible artworks across a variety of practices, which range from the straightforward to the completely impossible to execute. While some proposals come to fruition, others exist only in our imagination upon reading the idea. They invite us to consider how we define their success and what limits we place on creativity, and whether the conceptual and the material are of equal importance in an artwork. Topsy Turvy is a physically realised proposal, a red neon sign of the word ‘topsy-turvy’ presented in the Pavement window space against a black background. The typewritten proposal for the work specified the medium, colour, font and provided a dictionary definition of ‘topsy-turvy’; the font chosen by Liversidge for the neon can be found on road signs throughout the UK.

In Topsy Turvy Liversidge makes use of commonplace forms of visual communication, echoing both commercial and functional signage. The neon sign in tandem with Pavement’s architecture allude to the building’s mercantile past, as well as the broader visual experience of contemporary city centre streets and the relentless competition for our attention. The word ‘topsy-turvy’ evokes notions of confusion, and the feeling of being upside down or back-to-front, capturing the state of flux we currently find ourselves in. It also embodies the essence of Pavement as an unusual exhibition space that up-ends traditional expectations of an art gallery experience. Despite its relatively small scale, the bright red of the sign contrasts against its surroundings, demanding our attention and inviting us to question how we engage with the omnipresent, targeted forms of visual communication within the city.

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