Delights - The Art of Mary Adshead
University of Liverpool Art Gallery, Abercromby Square
Runs until 29th April 2005
Currently making its debut at the University of Liverpool Art Gallery
is the touring exhibition featuring the work of Mary Adshead (1904-1995).
Although principally celebrated as a mural painter, Adshead work includes
a variety of disciplines from decorative panels to easel paintings and
collage. On display is a small cross-section of her surviving work, her
humorous approach consistently employed throughout, and expressed using
several different techniques and styles.
The work ascends a small staircase, leading the viewer to the landing
at the top of the building. The first piece, Self-Portrait with Hat, represents
an early example of her work. This is followed by two collage compositions,
part of a series executed during the World War II period and its aftermath.
Each image The Radcliffe Camera and The White Horse is created using materials
available at this time, scraps of paper and cuttings from magazines or
books are carefully constructed into precise and detailed representations.
Adshead received a variety of commissions throughout her career, from
private works for country house such as those mentioned above, as well
as commissions for ships, hotels and restaurants. This diverse range can
also be illustrated by Venus and Gladstone an example of numerous sketches
constructed for Crystal Palace and The King of the Castle one of many
striking poster designs used to advertise theatre productions at the Playhouse.
Although this exhibition reflects the breadth of Adshead’s work
and informative labels accompany each image, I found the position of the
display slightly awkward and distracting. It appears that individual pieces
were selected to illustrate the disparate nature of her artistic career,
(or merely because they are the only surviving compositions) but this
disjointed approach combined with the uneasy layout inhibited my full
appreciation of the exhibition.