‘The Last Picture Show’ as Liverpool’s View Two Gallery closes its doors for good

'The Last Picture Show' Ken Martin, View Two

‘The Last Picture Show’ as Liverpool’s View Two Gallery closes its doors for good

Liverpool independent art gallery, View Two in Liverpool’s Mathew Street is closing its doors for good with one last picture show.

The final event, which opens later this week, will feature the biggest ever exhibition of paintings and drawings by the gallery’s multi-talented owner Ken Martin, and will include a selection of works by Ken’s favourite artists from over the years since 1990 when he opened the View gallery in Hanover Street before moving to View Two.

The one-time head of architecture at Liverpool Polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores University, has decided that in his mid 70s, it is time to move on and explore new horizons.

View Two, housed in a former banana warehouse in the Cavern Quarter of the city, will live on as an on-line virtual gallery.

Ken Martin will also leave behind a legacy of works from his time as a working architect, including the remodelling of the frontage of the Liverpool Playhouse in Williamson Square and one of his final major works, the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton.
He will also be remembered as the man who helped to save the Albert Dock complex from total demolition in the 1970s with a scheme, eventually dropped, to convert the abandoned dock system into a single-site campus for the Liverpool Polytechnic.

View Two never sought or received any grants, but existed on the energy and patronage of Ken Martin, helped by a small team of art and music enthusiasts.

It gave a “shop window” to established artists as well as hundreds of aspiring and up-and-coming artists.

Born in Accrington, Ken spent most of his adult life teaching architecture. One of his students, Ian Simpson, designed Manchester’s Beetham Tower.
“I will leave View Two with many happy memories. I like Liverpool very much, but now I live in Cumbria and it’s a long journey coming back and too. We have staged many exhibitions over the years, and also many music nights.
“The beauty of View Two is that we have been able to stage exhibitions, often at short notice. There have been no committees, or two-year lead in periods. We were able, not so long ago, to accommodate at very short notice a team from China who converted the whole gallery into an emperor’s palace. It was so magical.

“It’s a good time and the right time for me to move on, do some travelling and explore the world. Of course I will miss Liverpool and the many friends I have made over the years.”

The Last Picture Show at View Two, curated by Ken Martin and Bob Williams. Featuring works by Ken Martin, Matt Wilde, Richard Meaghen, Anthony Smith, Jo Hesketh, Pete Clarke, Steven Bower, James Cummings, Sheila Turner, Mike Rowan, Anne Young, Trevor Skempton…. and many more.

Private Viewing Thursday, May 11. Open Fridays and Saturdays noon until 5pm until June 24, 2017, and at other times by appointment. Further details: www.viewtwogallery.co.uk

Reflections on Ken Martin by Larry Neild

Ken Martin, View Two

Anybody who has scaled the flights of stairs at 23 Mathew Street will have discovered one of Liverpool’s hidden gems. The narrow staircase leads to a Tardis-like building containing three floors of gallery space, a performance space complete with a grand piano. It’s a magical cultural oasis, surrounded by the noise of the Mersey Beat and Beatlemania, created by the multi-talented professor Ken Martin.

Soon View Two Gallery will disappear into history as the doors finally close on what has been an incredible venue. It’s won the occasional award here and there, but View Two has survived because of the way it has been carefully nurtured by the one-time head of architecture at Liverpool Polytechnic.

View Two has provided generations of up and coming artists with the valuable space they desperately needed to display the labours of their skills and talents. Established artists have also lined up to exhibit at View Two, attracted by its wide circle of fans.

Where will those rookie artists go once View Two disappears?

Most weekends the big room at View Two doubles as a performance space for bands and musicians, delighted to play before an audience counted in dozens rather than hundreds or thousands. It was the quality, rather than the quantity that counted though.

View Two, a successor to Ken’s former View gallery in Hanover street, will be missed because there is no comparable space in Liverpool.

Many of the works available at View Two are from Ken’s own hands, watercolours, line drawings. He once managed to bag a collection of old ledgers and documents printed on old fashioned printing presses. They were destined for the skip, but instead ended up being recycled as historic and fascinating backgrounds for his drawings.

His regular escapes to France, provided a respite for Ken from his hectic life in the north of England.

In his Liverpool Poly days he was credited with playing a key role in saving the Albert Dock from demolition. There had been plans to tear the whole lot down, but Ken had other ideas: an ambitious plan to transform the abandoned, but historic dock system, into a campus for the poly. His dream was never fulfilled, but the delays caused by his ambitious project, saved the building. Now it is a national treasure on the banks of the Mersey.

Ken also remodelled the Liverpool Playhouse, creating its distinctive and attractive frontage overlooking Williamson Square.

One of his last big projects was designing the Floral Pavilion theatre complex in New Brighton, now one of the leading cultural venues in Wirral.

View Two never received grants or hand-outs. It survived on a cocktail of energy, enthusiasm and the goodwill and good wishes of those who used it, along with of course the drive of the man who created it, one of the cultural champions of Liverpool, Ken Martin, professor.

View Two will finally close in June 2017.

‘The Last Picture Show’ Ken Martin, View Two