Assemble / Granby Workshop

Assemble / Granby Workshop, 2016. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Assemble / Granby Workshop, 2016. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Liverpool Biennial has commissioned Assemble to create a new artwork on the occasion of the International Festival for Business (IFB) 2016. Granby Workshop, a social enterprise collaboration between the residents of Granby neighbourhood in Toxteth and artists collective Assemble, presents a showcase of their work outside the Exhibition Centre Liverpool during the three-week festival in a new commission. 

Granby Workshop is a local business that has grown out of the community-led rebuilding of the area and makes experimental products for homes. All products are manufactured using processes which embrace chance and improvisation, so each product made is unique. The sign that has been launched at IFB2016 has been fabricated in Granby and made using one of the workshops products: cut-out tiles. After the three-week festival ends the sign will be installed permanently outside the workshop premises, becoming part of the built fabric of the neighbourhood.

Granby Workshop is one of a set of projects that are the result of an ongoing collaboration between the design collective Assemble and Granby residents. In 2015, the collaboration was awarded the Turner Prize. The resourceful, creative actions of a group of residents were fundamental to bringing their streets out of dereliction and back into use after decades of ‘regeneration’ initiatives that saw a once thriving community scattered. 

The remaining Granby Four Streets were left sparsely populated, filled with tinned up houses. Over two decades the remaining residents cleared, planted, painted, and campaigned in order to reclaim their streets. In 2011 they entered into an innovative form of community land ownership, the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust (CLT), and securing ten empty houses for renovation as affordable homes. As new occupants finally moved into freshly renovated terraces that had been empty for thirty years, Assemble set up Granby Workshop as a means of continuing to support the kind of hands-on activity that has brought about immense change in the area. The first range of products are a set of handmade features, designed for refurbished homes in Granby to replace elements that were stripped out of the houses as they were boarded up by the council.