Independents Biennial Exhibition

The Six Rooms Gallery, 26 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, CH41 6AE
14th September - 5th October 2010

Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan

People often talk of the so-called "other side of the water", and if you're coming from Liverpool, Hamilton Square is one of the first places you can get to on the way to the aforementioned other side. Situated on the otherwise unremarkable Argyle Street, amongst the cafes and boarded up shops, is a once disused building that now houses The Six Rooms Gallery. As it's name suggests, it's an art space spread over six rooms and a courtyard of various forms of installations and pieces from many artists, mostly flying the flag for the Wirral.

Lushly redecorated, with fresh coats of paint over once period wallpapered surroundings and carpeting that gives the gallery a warm sense of belonging, this is the first phase of the Independents Biennial running until the beginning of October, when a whole new host of artists will move in and set up the second stage of the exhibition. There is much to recommend a trip from the central trappings of Liverpool to the quieter regions of Hamilton Square here including the biggest piece of stage one, the famous Liverpool band referencing installation in the courtyard from Daniel James entitled Can't Buy Me Love. Made from public-contributed umbrellas in various states of disrepair, the rain on the day of my visit made the various umbrellas even more symbolic as I walked through the installation, reading the love notes attached to each.

Other highlights include Theresia Cadwallader's peace and prayer themed installation in the basement room, Prayer Offering for Hope and Peace, which is a less-is-more style installation of folded origami cranes of various sizes hanging from the ceiling around a plinth with lights placed on it in a dimmed room. The atmosphere is indeed peaceful, and one can't help but come to the conclusion that this piece could only go in the lower part of the building. The reason for this is simple, the higher you go up in the building the more work there seems to be. The minimalistic installations of the lower floors mostly fade out and smaller, more traditional pieces become the focus as one goes up the stairs.

Some of my personal favorites of the smaller pieces were Kwan Mai Ling's "Zen" series, which resembled highly stylized static yet are visually fascinating to look at, the use of white and silver making them particularly interesting. In the same room, we had a fascinating selection of mixed media pieces by Eimear Kavanagh entitled Holi, consisting of the original piece and the most recent series of smaller prints, which were visual essays in almost random colour mixing that were somehow conveying a message, even if the message itself wasn't immediately obvious.

Further along we had some photography from Brenda Sharp, the best pieces for this reviewer being the Caravan and Camouflage shots, which were highly fascinating in their use of battered up items that have no functional purpose but as art come to life again! Amanda Oliphants work also impressed, with one canvas in particular revealing itself to be the shadow of her wire sculpture positioned near by! Of course, there is a lot more in this Gallery but the whole fun of art galleries is visiting them and enjoying the work in your own way. Do yourself a favor and head down before this first part closes to view a gallery well worth your time and distinctly different from the mostly more, in this reviewers opinion, sterile pieces showing in the City Centre.

For further info:

Tel: 0151 702 7417 (Tues – Thurs) or 0759 424 6970 (at any other times)
Email: wendy.williams[at]

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Comment left by Alison Bailey Smith on 2nd November, 2010 at 11:14
Thanks for including a picture of my red ruff from the Group One show, it is an older piece made for an exhibition at the National Museums of Scotland called Jewllery Moves and was based on paintings in the Portrait Gallery in Queens Street in Edinburgh of Mary Queen of Scots. Just to let you all know the Group Three exhibition at The Six Rooms Gallery opens on the 4th of November at 5.30-8pm with John Gorman -ex-Tiswas and recently back from a concert in Shanghai with Scaffold. 26 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, a hop, skip and a jump through Hamilton Square from the train station. Thank you for your support. Alison