‘Liverpool’ by Paul Barker
Frances Lincoln Publishers (£14.99 RRP)
Reviewed by Mark Langshaw
Yet another collection of photographs depicting 2008’s Capital of Culture hits the shelves on 2nd November thanks to Yorkshire-based photographer Paul Barker. Barker - an architectural and landscape photographer who has published a number of books including the highly successful England’s Thousand Best Churches - works extensively for Country Life Magazine and English Heritage.
His latest book is an unashamed visual celebration of the city’s finest architectural and cultural heritage. From the docks and wharves that formed the basis of the Liverpool’s prosperity, to the music scene of the 1960s, which briefly made the city the most stylish in the world. Barker’s intention is to serve up a fitting tribute for anyone who has always known and loved the city as well as those discovering it for the first time.
With so many similar books on the market, there isn’t much on offer here to distance this one from the pack. The photographs vary from wonderfully inspired to unimaginative and commonplace. At times Barker’s use of light is something to behold, particularly the evening shots of the waterfront, but many of these images are presented no differently than we have seem countless times before.
Both Premier League football clubs, innumerable pubs, churches, gardens and offices feature prominently. It was nice to see Port Sunlight and Sefton Park included, but Calderstones Park and Lark Lane are glaring omissions.
The accompanying text giving the historical background to each photograph is well researched and comprehensive, but adds nothing to the already copious amount of local history books on the market.
As breathtaking as some of these photographs are in their simple clarity, there is little reason to recommend this book over any other photographic collection of the city, particularly to those already familiar with Liverpool and its heritage.
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