Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, construction progress, 1937Metropolis: capturing modern Liverpool

Conservation Centre, Whitechapel
21st March – 10th August 2008

Reviewed by John Owen

Beautiful old elegant black and white photographs embrace your mind as you enter the Edward and Stewart collection in the gallery upstairs snapshots made real, almost like cabin windows of the boats that sailed here and left.

Such a fantastic sight of old Liverpool alive and giving a glow of life, the pulse of the everyday, the mundane, the ordinary from Pier Head to New Brighton-bound travelers suited up and ready for fun, sandwiches ‘n’ lemmo in bag ready to check out the crabmeat ‘over the water’.

The more iconic buildings here merge with everyday street scenes of fruit and veg stalls, if you strain you can still hear their voices call flowers and happy go lucky people from postwar Liverpool entering the boom with confidence and resolution and a large coat ideal for shoplifting from the large shops.

These contrast with the workers smiling for the camera in the heavy industry workplace shots at Cammell Laird’s, the mysterious Anglican cathedral half-built as religion wanes and enthusiasm for the project goes too, grinding work to a halt. Sound familiar to anybody?

Talking with some visitors whose personal memories are entwined with the pictures, they are the human element of the tapestry.

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