TALK – Cityscape, Ben Johnson

imageTUESDAY 19 April 2011, 12.00 at the Walker. REFLECTIONS ON A CITYSCAPE, Artist Ben Johnson returns for talk at Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery and will be discussing his popular painting at the Walker Art Gallery before it is transferred to its permanent home at the Museum of Liverpool, which opens on 19 July.

The talk will take place on 19 April at 12.00pm and will be a retrospective look back at Ben’s experience in Liverpool which he calls ‘a dream come true’.

The Liverpool Cityscape was worked on in front of a live audience at the Walker Art Gallery in 2008 as part Liverpool’s year as Capital of Culture. A highlight of the year for the gallery was the high turnover of 50,726 visitors at the Walker Art Gallery to see Ben complete the 8ft x 16ft panoramic which is the largest and most complex painting he has ever undertaken.

In what is likely to be Ben’s last public discussion on The Liverpool Cityscape at the Walker, he will talk about the extensive research that went into the painting. This involved spending time in Liverpool, finding the best viewpoints, studying the architecture, talking to local experts, making drawings and taking over 3,000 photographs.

Ann Bukantas, head of fine art at the Walker Art Gallery and editor and author of a book about the Cityscape, first came up with the proposal and has worked closely with the project until its impressive conclusion.

She said: “Ben Johnson’s track record in painting expansive detailed panoramas of cities including Jerusalem and Hong Kong made him an obvious choice to tackle such a well-known and well-loved city at an important milestone it its history during the Capital of Culture year.

“The chance to see Ben talking about The Liverpool Cityscape at the gallery for perhaps the last time is sure to be as captivating as the painting itself.  As well as the extensive research he did on the city and its buildings, Ben put his passion and energy into the painting. This reflects his great affection not only for Liverpool but for its people too. The stories they told him had a real impact on him. We can look forward to him talking about these experiences and reflecting on some of the challenges this ambitious project gave him. ”

Other likely topics of discussion will focus on Ben recollecting the experience of working on the piece in front of the public which inevitably roused continuous debate and interest.

He will also talk about the public response to the painting when it was loaned to the National Gallery in London, and compare the reactions to its London counterpart, against the sheer popularity of The Liverpool Cityscape.

Ben Johnson said: “Having spent three years painting every building within the city of Liverpool and having spent five weeks during the residency meeting the warm and wonderful people of Liverpool, my trip this time gives me a feeling of coming home.  The buildings alone make this a great city but when you meet the people you know this is a very special place.”

A book signing will also take place after the talk at 1pm when Ben will be signing copies of his book, Cityscape – Ben Johnson’s Liverpool.

The Liverpool Cityscape will go on display in the Museum of Liverpool: the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for more than a century. Visitors will be able to see the painting in the Skylight Gallery when the Museum opens on 19 July.

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