Arthur Dooley that’s what. This week our photo Friday is a photograph of the Liverpool sculptor Arthur Dooley in his studio, taken by an unknown photographer and found in the Arthur Dooley Archive held in the Library’s Archives and Special Collections. Eagle eyed visitors to the Aldham Robarts LRC may have spotted the sculptures which are now on display on the Lower Ground Floor – these are three sculptures by Dooley that we have been loaned by a private collector for temporary exhibition outside our Archive Consultation Room.
The three pieces on display are ‘Liverpool steps’ (c.1962), ‘The Bull’ (used as a prestigious award by LWT), and ‘Workers Control of Fisher Bendix, Kirkby’.
The largest piece, ‘Liverpool Steps’, shows a robed figure on steps. The Liverpool steps played a significant role in Dooley’s social upbringing. They were where communities were formed; chatting on the steps with neighbours, sitting watching children play on the streets, the ritual of the cleaning of the steps. Through these simple slabs of material whole communities stood ‘as one’; they were the backbone of social life.
‘The Bull’, a polished bronze sculpture, was first exhibited at the Gallery Oldham in 1967. One dignitary attending the event was Cyril Bennet, the controller of programmes at London Weekend Television (1971-1976), a hugely popular man at LWT and within the television industry as a whole. Following his death in November 1976, LWT commissioned Arthur Dooley to produce a polished bronze sculpture for the Royal Television Society to be used as an Award for the years most original contribution to television programming, titled ‘The Cyril Bennett Memorial Award’. The piece requested was the very Bull that Cyril had seen and loved at the Gallery Oldham exhibition in 1967.
‘Workers Control of Fisher Bendix, Kirkby’ relates to events in 1972, when due to proposed closure of the Fisher Bendix factory in Kirkby, the workers occupied the entire factory for a period of five weeks. In order to help with the workers finances Arthur Dooley was to make a several hundred bronze fish. Two types were made: one small fish which simply stated ‘1972’ and a larger fish which stated ‘Jan 1972, Workers control of Fisher Bendix Kirkby’. Each fish was priced at £5 and the proceeds were divided between the families. Alongside the fish you can also see a document about Fisher Bendix taken from the Dooley Archives (ref: ADA/Project/Politics/92).