Jane HughesThe Myrtle Exhibition

Held at ArtSpeQ Gallery, Quiggins Building
9 - 31 June, Mon to Sat, 10.00am - 5.00pm

Review by Colin Serjent

The ArtSpeQ Gallery opened its doors for the first time, when it staged an exhibition of the work of final year HND/C Fine Arts students from Liverpool Community College.

Judging by the packed crowds at the private view at the show's launch, and the favourable comments made about the impressive gallery space, based on the second floor of Quiggins, the future augurs well for ArtSpeQ. That is unless our friendly neighbourhood property developers decide to demolish the building as part of the Paradise Street Redevelopment Programme!

The show itself, organised by Ann Stevenson, which displayed the work of 14 students from the college, ranging in age from 20 to 65, included installations, paintings, sculpture and time based media.

I was particularly intrigued by the installation piece by Claire Freeman, called 'Communication'. She likes "memories which possess a history...the 'pasts' of found/salvaged materials or objects which have universal meanings as well as personal ones".
Freeman uses, for example, netting to symbolise the internet, soil to convey electricity, buttons to indicate morse code and the telephone, and feathers, perhaps to pay tribute to Reuters news agencey, who began life using carrier pigeons to send items of news.

Elizabeth WillowPerhaps the most unusual work is another installation titled 'Wait' by Elizabeth Willow, which involves her sleeping in a bed during the time the exhibition is open to the public! She sleeps in a bride's dress on a wrought iron bed, which is covered overhead by linen and lace, ivy, bramble, rose thorns and many other natural forms.
She is attracted by "...found objects, fragments, broken and discarded things...decay, disintegration, alchemy, metamorphosis...."

Debris into art is the chosen method of Susan Comer, who has transformed discarded bundles of copper wiring from a local factory into thousands of attached little balls, with each ball, although looking similar, nevertheless showing a slight variation from one another. Repetition of pattern comes across strongly in this fascinating work.

Child-like but dark images are produced by Leedi Huo with his large Frame works (oil on canvas), 'Soldier at War' and 'Subway Stairs'.

The paintings of Jane Hughes (acrylic on canvas) show a distinctive use of colours within them. "I have tried to retain the character of the initial drawing and have used colours that I found within the original landscape." she said.
For instance, 'Pathway' - her largest piece in the exhibition - shows a view of Hale, as she observed it from across the fields from the nearby woods.

Of more menacing content is ‘Sister Gertrude and me’, an installation piece by Sheila Nicholson. It is an imposing and frightening figure of a num standing over ten feet tall, and evokes a guilt ridden and emotionally scarred upbringing experienced by children in catholic schools.

The artists involved in this exhibition have formed a new art group called Myrtle, with their first show being held at the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre on Smithdown Road, running from 21 September until 18 October.