Walker Gallery, Liverpool
From 5th June till 15th August
I have always loved the Walker, in fact have always loved the Museum,
Walker Art Gallery and the Library on William Brown Street. In museums,
art galleries and libraries at least, Liverpool excels and is world class.
After walking around for five minutes, I eventually stumble, as people
always seem to, on the ‘Partners in Art’, an exhibition to
celebrate the collaboration between Manchester Art Gallery and the Walker
Art Gallery in Liverpool. Mancs and Scousers unite!!!
Seriously, there are some well known painters and paintings here, and
many other unknown painters and their paintings; there are paintings here
by Lucian Freud and even one by L.S. Lowry, but most of the others are
relative unknowns, many of them also being born in the 19th century too.
They are not actually necessarily Liverpool or Manchester artists, which
is a little surprising, nor Liverpool or Manchester subjects; some of
them are paintings of London, and even Ned Kelly’s death mask makes
a guest appearance in one painting!
I am particularly taken with Freud’s ‘Girl with a Beret’
and his statement that “the task of the artist is to make the human
being uncomfortable.” There are numerous beautiful paintings, in
all sorts of styles, and again, I pick out William Denis Eden’s
‘Grishelda at the ‘Wheatsheaf’’ which is a very
Edwardian, even late-Edwardian, overly stylised painting of the artist’s
wife, opening a map in an inn, for directions! It is a beautiful and timeless
piece, and curiously ancient and modern at the same time. William Denis
Eden was also incidentally born in Liverpool.
L.S. Lowry’s ‘The Fever Van’ depicts a grim Manchester
scene, with crowds scurrying around an ambulance; this is a bleak painting,
and though many salute him for his honest and gritty realism, I am not
really moved by this. One of the paintings that really stands out for
me is ‘Townscape’ by Algernon Newton; it is a painting of
crumbling regency houses in North London, which is magnificently tying
to portray the scene as somehow grand, eloquent and of worth, even though
the place is commonplace and the people look poor and ordinary. Newton
studied the Venetian painter Canaletto, and applied the Italian master’s
lighting techniques to his own paintings. Newton said “a gasometer
can make as beautiful a picture as a palace on the Grand Canal, it simply
depends on the artist’s vision.”, and who can disagree with
Sandra Martin, principal curator of fine art, Manchester Art Gallery
says “we are delighted to be working with the Walker. Laurence Lane’s
LIV/MAN work is the perfect contemporary art piece to show in Liverpool
and Manchester, as it provides a fascinating insight into the relationship
between our two cities.”
This interesting piece by Laurence Lane, in the Walker, is a recorded
tape of Mancunians talking about Liverpool, and in the Manchester Art
Gallery, it is a recorded tape of Scousers giving their opinions of Manchester
and Mancunians. It is an interesting piece, and quite funny too.
The Walker is always well worth a visit, as they regularly put on new
exhibitions all the time, and this exhibition particularly is worth having
a look at for the very good collection of paintings, and some sculptures,
that are on show.