Cecelia Matson - Valley of ShadowsThe Liverpool Academy of Arts at The Paint Warehouse

Former Robinson and Neal paint warehouse, Seel Street
25th January - 26th March 2007 (Mon-Fri 10am–4pm)

Reviewed by Helen Grey

The building which has been home to The Liverpool Academy of Arts for the last eighteen years will be knocked down and redeveloped in 2008. However, the Academy has found a temporary refuge in the old Robinson and Neal paint warehouse on Seel Street. They hope to find permanent city centre premises that will encompass a gallery, performance space and a permanent exhibition dedicated to one of the founders of the current Academy, Arthur Dooley. In celebration of this new era the Academy has opened with an exhibition called simply ‘The Liverpool Academy of Arts at the Paint Warehouse'. The space in the warehouse is much larger and brighter than the old premises, allowing them to display an impressive collection of work from over 60 Merseyside artists.

The collection on show is delightful. At every turn you are drawn to another fabulous painting or sculpture. Next to the entrance hangs a large painting by the now deceased artist James Cliffe. ‘Exodus From Liverpool’, painted in 1960, depicts a Liverpool street in greys and browns. The buildings are rundown and the street as a whole has a melancholy feel. However the depression is lifted somewhat by the figures of men floating away into the sky, holding black umbrellas. The figure in the foreground, who is wearing jam jar bottom glasses, also holds an umbrella but has an encouraging – if somewhat manic – expression on his face. Cecelia Matson is a relatively young artist but shows exceptional talent in her work, especially her large ink canvas ‘Valley of Shadows'. She uses ink and white paint to create a piece that is as atmospheric as it is claustrophobic. The excellent height and perspective created by the painting draws the eye up between two large structures, and out into a dazzling sky. Located next to Cecelia’s work are two sculptures from Carl Hodgson entitled ‘Goth Dreams I’ and ‘Goth Dreams II’. They look like large vases decorated with many squirming bodies of dragons, sea beasts and other mythical creatures. Hours could be spent looking at how the forms connect with one another.

This exhibition exceeds expectations, and with every type of art style is on display there will at least one piece that you will want to take home with you.

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