We absolutely loved Percy Gulliver’s when it opened for a brief period last year. Set in a previously closed storefront on Bold Street, it was a perfect example of Liverpool’s ‘can do’ gung ho brilliance: a temporary shop stuffed tighter than Joe Anderson’s suit, with limited edition screenprinted posters, cards, clothing, zines and various stuff by the best artists and craftspeople of the city.

Brains behind the venture, local designer Gary McGarvey, has had a bit of a crazy summer already. Hopping from festival to festival with his Screenadelica gig poster exhibition (the SevenStreets team spent all our pocket money there at Primavera), Percy Gulliver is coming back to life this month on Slater Street. We caught up with Gary for a chat about its resurrection.

We’re excited about the shop’s return. Why did you fancy bringing it back to life?

I always wanted to make it something slightly more permanent and give it a chance to find its feet properly. So when the opportunity came along to use the top floor of the Shipping Forecast, it seemed perfect for what we wanted. The last time we did it, I don’t think people got that it was a short term pop-up. By the time they got around to having a look, it was gone. This time round, we’re looking at around 6 months for starters and take it from there. Give it a chance to grow and let word spread around about it.

What kind of things did you learn from last year’s store?

Last time around we couldnt embrace the social end of things other than indulging in pots of mulled wine on a camping stove with our customers! We only had one plug socket in the entire shop, but we also lacked the space. I think the main obstacle was the time we had to build on our ideas, so taking six months gives us more time to discover artists as we go and build up a customer base.

What can we expect to find there this time around?

Expect to see all things print. Art prints, screenprinted gig posters, t-shirts and bags, zines. We’ll be having a monthly guest exhibition – I’ve curated the first few to start with, but we hope to get some guest curators in over the months too. The first solo exhibition is from an amazing artist from Chicago called Justin Santora. He’s one of my favourite gig poster artists, his work tells a story – quite simple in subject matter, so complicated in method and themes. His work is really affordable too – I expect it to become super collectable in years to come. After that we’ll have the 12 Bestival gig posters, a series specially commissioned by Screenadelica for the festival. We have some real treats this year.

Ultimately, what would you like to achieve with it all?

We want this place to become a hub, a space you can come to, spread out and draw all day if you want, or just sit and day dream. We’ll be adding light boxes to tables for artists to work on, over the months we aim to build up a little drop-in centre for graduates, build up bits of advice from different design studios in the city. We want to attract creatives in the city to make it a networking hub without the dreaded ‘networking’ title. I want it to be somewhere with no pretentiousness and somewhere that anyone can come in without worrying if they should be there. My favourite thing about the Bold Street location was the wide variety of people who came into the shop, people who wouldnt dream in a million years about going to an art gallery. But with a little encouragement, they came in. Some spent 2 seconds, some spent an hour looking around.

Percy Gulliver’s Printshop and Social
Top floor, The Shipping Forecast, Slater St
Thurs – Sat throughout August, full time from mid September

  • Rich

    Good idea, but the Shipping Forecast is way too up itself to be an open venue. It is worse than Newz bar in it’s own way, with a significant “reverse” snobbery issue going on. Any place where security start asking you which bars you drink at before letting you in is a bit of a joke. The only place I’ve ever heard of doing that before was the awful 051 over a decade ago. Not great company to be keeping. Shipping Forecast. Like Leaf, only unfriendly.

  • JD Moran

    I am not sure that will be an issue to be honest with you Rich. It seems a lot more welcoming of a daytime and during the week, which potentially makes their “policy” worse in that they’ll happily accept your money during the week then get a bit funny with you wanting to spend more of your money there of a Friday or Saturday night.

    The trouble they may find with this location is that it won’t have the passing trade that it got on Bold Street. Even for those who are venturing along Slater Street, I am not sure how obvious it will be that it is there. It seems the sort of place that you’d need to know it was there rather than just happening upon it.

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