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Lambananas, Spiders, Giants and Iron Men

Sea Odyssey Liverpool 2012

Sea Odyssey Liverpool 2012

First published on and updated below.

Liverpool has always punched above its weight. Think about it, we are a town that’s spans just 43 square miles, our population is barely half a million, yet our reputation spans the globe. We are a city with big ideas, of huge aspirations, and giant dreams. So it should surprise no one that today the city is once again buzzing. The giants are back and this time they’re bringing Gran!


In 2012 they enthralled Liverpool with one of the most magical and moving pieces of theatre I have ever seen. It was all acted out on our streets and we were smitten. Art is for the people says Jean-Luc Courcoult, Artistic Director of Royale Deluxe, the company responsible for the giants. Well he truly delivered on that philosophy, as the neighbourhoods of Anfield, and Everton welcomed the huge marionettes on their doorsteps.

It was a story of love across time and space, of a message from a little girl that never found her father, who perished on the titanic. In the story the girl’s uncle (a deep-sea diver) finds her fathers letter in the wreckage, and searches the streets of Liverpool for the little girl. The letter was real, and now sits in the city’s Maritime Museum. The rest belongs in Jean-Luc’s imagination. Nevertheless, I can tell you there wasn’t a dry eye on the Mersey when the pair reunited at Kings Dock on the last day of the extravaganza.

This summer they return, but with a different tale to tell. We now know the route, and have had tantalising glimpse of the Grandmother Giant. However, the exact details are a closely guarded secret, but what we do know is they will be paying tribute to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice during world war one. It promises to be yet another touching  and emotional event.

Capital of Culture Legacy

Antony Gormley's Another Place, Crosby, Liverpool

Antony Gormley’s Another Place, Crosby, Liverpool

Super Rafalambanana 2008

Super Rafalambanana 2008

Giant Spider Liverpool 2008

Giant Spider Liverpool 2008

2008 seems so long ago now, that its hard to remember the scepticism that surrounded the decision to award Liverpool European Capital of Culture status. I remember being told by a colleague not from  the city, that it was a waste of time. Apparently when people visit the UK, they are only interested in London and Edinburgh. Another joked about how much the towns civic leaders must have bribed the judges in order to win the award.

Even among some of my Scouse friends there were doubts about the benefits of such an honorific. Today all such naysayers should be swept aside. Liverpool now has an enhanced reputation globally as a world city, capable of staging huge events. Our obituary has been written many times but we stand stronger and prouder than ever. We are the perennial come back king of cities.

In the last six years the most bizarre creatures have come to symbolise the spirit of Liverpool. Mutant Spiders, Lambananas, Fifty Foot Marionettes, and Iron Men. The people of the city have embraced them all. Perhaps that’s because we are perfectly in sync, larger than life and wonderfully unique. Maybe that’s why Liverpool was just voted number one tourist destination in the UK (sorry London and Edinburgh) and number three in the world, by travel bible ‘Rough Guide’.

Next year we will be number one.

Jeff Goulding

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