John Moores Prize 2016 @ Walker Art Gallery

Made my regular visit to Liverpool to check out the winners and the competitors for this influential prize.

The highlights for me were really not in agreement with the jury – only one of the prizewinners was in my top 5:

Selma Parlour’s One, The Side-ness of In-Out:


Loved the palette for this and the way she used two shapes in seemingly different universes.  The top shape was held in place by gravity and it was not about to budge, whilst the lower shape hovered as if ready to take flight. Combined with the blue framing device which seemed to create the illusion of a room in the top right and bottom left corners, I was happy to see this amongst the winners.





Mandy Payne was once again in the running and I adore her work.  No Ball Games Here is from her series on Park Hillin Sheffield.   Mandy uses oil and aerosol paint on concrete which gives a gritty realism to the work.  Your eye is taken along the ballustrade to the end of the passage where there is a sharp turn and we see out onto the outer building.  Someone described this as ‘Mondrian-like’ and you can see the similiarities.



A fun piece that I liked was this ‘UntitledIMG_20160808_121630303 work by Nancy Milner. The rigid horizontal lines of blocked colour contasted wonderfully with the alternate lines that positively vibrated.  Loved looking at that one!






My favourite was by Lee Marshall, entitled ‘Midnight I’.


Everything about this one resonated.  Loved the vibrancy of the red and with the blue, the sense of horror it projected was thrilling. The surrealist nature of it was also exciting.  Marshall says that there is no intended narrative,but he thought of it as “stumbling in to an artist’s studio at night, lit only by the lights from the signage on the street outside.”



I said I had a top 5 and the fifth one was disturbing but fascinating at the same time:


This is Les Non-reclames (The Unclaimed) by Steph Goodger.

Based on a photograph from the 1871 uprising in Paris, where the communards who had been killed but not identified were photographed in their coffins for indentification purposes.

I looked up the original photograph:


and could see exactly what the artist meant when she said that she was elaborating “on the staged nature of the two photographs. The ever shifting speculations about the images fuel the intrigue over the many baffling details they contain.  There is too, a general sense of emptiness, of watching people fading from the world.”

Even after all these years, you do stop and wonder about these people, who they were, what they achieved, why they believed in their cause.

A very somber and meaningful work.

Another very rewarding trip to my second home!


Well I Never!

Browsing through my page likes on FB, and the National Gallery popped up with an advert  for their new exhibition about the connections between painters and the paintings they possessed:  ‘Painters’ Paintings’. This  Titian:  ‘Portrait of Gerolamo (?) Barbarigo’ was the image they used:


I recognised this and was here wondering where on earth I’d seen it before -I haven’t really looked at Titian that closely. But then, it came to me…last year at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, their exhibition, ”Reality’ had this painting by Allan MacDonald called Candy Man.


At the time, we thought it was Jesus on a moped, which was hilarious, but now we know! Still love it, mind!

Liverpool Biennial August 2014 Part Two

Started early the next day with a trip out to Port Sunlight and the Lady Lever Art Gallery to spend a little time with dear Gabriel:

Seven: Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris’   dante_gabriel_rossetti_1_proserpine


…explores the role of Jane Morris as Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s chief muse and the embodiment of Pre-Raphaelite beauty. This exhibition brings together rarely displayed works, focusing on Rossetti’s fixation with Morris and his depiction of her as the ultimate femme-fatale. More than 30 paintings, drawings and photographs of Morris, including a number which were used as studies for some of Rossetti’s most famous works, feature in the exhibition.

The exhibition includes the studies ‘Pandora’ (1878), ‘La Donna della Finestra’ (1870) and ‘La Donna della Fiamma’ (1870) from this period but it is the painting ‘Proserpine’ (1882) which had the deepest resonance with the couple.

Eight: Walker Art Gallery – John Moore’s Painting Prize

Back into Liverpool to take a look at this year’s award winners. Mandy Payne’s ‘Brutal’ was my favourite but, the one I liked least, by Rose Wylie was the eventual winner – what do I know?   payne wylie



Nine: Tour of the Edmund Gardner

This was such fun.  Got to go all over the ship which had been ‘dazzled’ by Carlos Cruz-Diez who also put in some rather fantastidazzle-ship-edmund-gardner - Copyc paving across the way from Albert Docks.  2014-08-06 14.14.54



walmer-castle “The commission transforms the historic pilot ship the Edmund Gardner into a ‘dazzle ship’, using a painting technique introduced as a way of camouflaging ships during the First World War. Dazzle’s contrasting stripes and curves create an optical illusion that break up a ship’s shape and obscure its movement in the water, making it difficult for enemy submarines to identify and destroy.
Painted in bright colours and a sharp patchwork design of interlocking shapes, the spectacular dazzle style was heavily indebted to Cubist art. The inventor of dazzle painting, Norman Wilkinson, was influenced by avant-garde British painters such as Wyndham Lewis and David Bomberg. ”

Last Stop: The Maritime Museum and the exhibition: Titanic and Liverpool: The Untold Story

So, two days, over 20 miles of walking and ten exhibits of one kind or another and I was all ‘Biennialled’ out!!  Thank goodness it’s only every two years!

Liverpool Biennial August 2014 Part One


To visit 10 exhibits linked to the Liverpool BiennialBiennial Map - Copy

Getting Started

Success for any trip is a good hotel. Stayed at Z Hotel on North John Street. Room was comfy, staffentrance were friendly and there was complimentary wine and cheese in the evening. It was rude to refuse!


First Stop: The Old Blind School  liverpool-biennial-2014-30    “Inevitably, rules get broken, and bits of behaviour are combined with bits of misbehaviour.”

There was one piece here that caught my eye: Marc Bauer. His work, Quarry 1907 took an entire wall. This is just the middle section.10561805_634686503305335_525816019795275061_n

The building itself was the main attraction: 10592869_634686703305315_155314640967698547_n


Two. The Blue Coat – James MacNeill Whistler10556347_634687196638599_7339739491995315068_n

“More than 100 years after his death, Whistler takes part in A Needle Walks into a Haystack because his attitude, motivations and commitment are as resonant now as they ever were. Whistler spoke for himself, and to continue his legacy we’ve summoned his thoughts and writings to guide you through the show.”

Three. Tate Liverpool – Claude Parentdsc9777-50cm

“Claude Parent (FR) is one of the most radical figures of French avant-garde architecture, and La colline de l’art (Art Hill) is the latest demonstration of the oblique function — a principle of architecture he developed in the 1960s with theorist Paul Virilio. Defying convention, the idea proposes that buildings incorporate ramps and slopes, avoid right angles and be wall-free where possible. Within such constructions, bodies behave in new and unusual ways that heighten the senses as well as reshape interpersonal dynamics and hierarchies.”

Two pieces stood out:

Voyages of the Moon 1934-7 by Paul Nash 1889-1946

Sleeping Venus 1944 by Paul Delvaux 1897-1994




Interior, Sunlight on the Floor 1906 by Vilhelm Hammershoi 1864-1916

Four. Tate Liverpool – Works from the collection

This was the standout piece for me:

The canvas is folded back on either side and there is a figure in black there that we can no longer see.



Five. Liverpool Cathedral – Michael Nyman Broadcast of Symphony No. 11: Hillsborough Memorial


A beautiful piece of music in an ideal setting.


Six: The evening’s entertainment was at FACT to see Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.  A brilliant film shot over twelve years with the same actors.  A fascinating exploration of what growing up really entails.

End of day one