The Gallery Liverpool, Stanhope St. © Gayna Rose Madder, March 2011.
Liverpool is fortunate to have so many art galleries, and to be blessed with a number of independent ones. The latter group are able to show a broader, more eclectic body of work (if they choose to) and probably feature some of the most innovative exhibitions seen in the UK, outside London.
Unlike the major galleries, this is always down to the sheer hard work of a handful of individuals, rather than external funding. Mounting an exhibition featuring anything up to 100 pieces, sometimes featuring as many artists (and therefore dealing with that number of people at least) is no mean feat – let alone taking it down a short time later, perhaps in some cases only a week, and starting all over again.
Two people who let themselves in for this arduous process are Billy Wilson and Fiona Dunn of The Gallery Liverpool, Stanhope St. Opening their doors in September 2009 with an exhibition by controversial local photographer Stephanie de Leng, they have since gradually built a reputation for excellence.
Now, there have been individual and group exhibitions too numerous to mention. Some standout moments have included Clifford Sayer’s ‘Literalism’, and the ‘coup’ in featuring the work of the (very) young artist, 10-year-old ‘prodigy’ Hamad al-Humaidhan, touted as ‘the new Picasso’ (both last year).
The first this show this year broke taboos by with the exhibition ‘Erotic Art’, featuring live performances as well as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures. A record may well have been set when a crowd of 400 attended the private view, and the exhibition was seen by 1800 people altogether, inviting multiple requests for the Gallery to turn this into an annual event/ festival.
Most recently there was an auction hosted by local (well-deserved) celebrity Paul O’Keeffe. Auctions are not new to Liverpool but the sheer quality of the work on sale meant that all 60 pieces sold, many for high prices (the highest was a phone bid for a piece, ‘Yosser’ by Clifford Sayer, who is also the artist-in-residence at the Gallery). Other high-profile local artists who sold work included Peter Cameron, Anna di Scala, Anton Dolders and Charlie Frais whose wonderful ‘Round midnight’ also proved popular.
It is a testament to the venue and its driving forces that, in the middle of a severe recession, that the work of local artists is selling so well. It is also a combination of the thought that has been put into the whole project in the first place, and the determined efforts of those who keep it going.
If you haven’t visited yet, it is strongly recommended. The private views for new exhibitions have become prestigious events in themselves (contact details are given below) – try to get to one soon!
The Gallery Liverpool is located in the emerging ‘Baltic Creative Quarter’ of creative businesses, Liverpool’s old industrial warehousing area for what used to be the local docks. Across the road from Cains brewery, the first floor of the building, (above a sign-making company) has been re-designed as a bespoke art gallery .
With (re-)movable internal walls (woe betide the heavy drinkers at private views who attempt to lean on them) it is a flexible space, well-considered for viewing work of different sizes and shapes.
Liverpool University Photographic Society, March 11th – 25th, private view 7 – 10 pm 11.03.11.
Sefton Guild of Artists, 8th – 29 April, private view 7 – 10 pm 8.04.11.
10am – 4.30pm, Monday – Friday. 10am – 2 pm Saturday, or by appointment: 07718 740741.
First Floor, 41 Stanhope Street, Liverpool L8 5RE
Tel: 0151 709 2442, Fax: 0151 709 2283, Web: www.thegalleryliverpool.co.uk