Pride In Liverpool

Simon Birtall, Helen Dougherty, Jason Jones, Sue Milburn, Tony & Nathan Pendlebury, Debbie Ryan, Colin Serjent, Jossy Sitoe, Steve Strode
Met Art Gallery, 6 Queen Avenue (off Castle Street)
25th February - 31st March 2006 (Tue-Fri 11:00-18:00)

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Having pride in the place where you were born to the exclusion of everywhere else has always struck me as daft. You were born wherever your mother plonked herself about nine months after you were conceived, so you may as well be proud of the hospital bed or the pattern on the curtains around it. Anyway, people are definitely entitled to be proud of their own achievements, so several of the artists shown here have good reason to be pleased with themselves.

There are over fifty pieces on display, and the most eye-catching are undoubtedly those produced by Jossy Sitoe, who was born in Mozambique. Sitoe says he paints "about my people, my country and my society, in spiritual, traditional and modern terms", and his large oil on canvas pieces bring his ideas to life in conjurations of vivid yellows, reds and purples.

Most of the renderings of Liverpool seem tame by comparison. David Shiers' 'Liverpool Waterfront' is an incredibly detailed fine line depiction of - yes, you guessed it - the Liverpool waterfront. But while his work is technically excellent, it seems to lack the soul of Sitoe's work. Yes, it's Liverpool's waterfront. Yes, it's world famous. And?

There are exceptions though. Though still preoccupied with the river, Roy Munday's 'Stanley Docks, Wintry Sun' and 'Stanley Docks, Sunset' are painted with a definite fluidity of movement yet somehow suggest a sense of profound tranquillity. And intriguingly, Steve Strode's 'Seascape' looks as though it is glowing with nuclear radiation as two girls sit giggling on promenade rails.

Many of the artists seem to ignore the subject of well...anything, though this is far from being a bad thing in some cases. Sue Milburn tends to specialise in formidable yet accessible grand expanses of colour, she shows off her versatility here with three subtle, swirling misty patterns.

The title of this exhibition only fits about half of these exhibits, and some of the pieces are more inspired than others. But with Colin Serjent and Jason Jones also on display there should be something for most people. All the same, I can't help thinking that those who want to show the real Liverpool might do well to look past the picture postcard facade.

Most of the exhibits can be viewed at the gallery's website:

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