The Mersey Sound Exhibition at University of Liverpool

Roger McGough, Catherine Marcangeli and Brian Patten
Roger McGough, Catherine Marcangeli and Brian Patten

The Mersey Sound at VGM
8 May – 12 September 2009

The exhibition charts the development and sources of inspiration of Liverpool poets, Roger McGough, Brian Patten and the late Adrian Henri – writers who were central to the city’s literary, music and visual arts scene of the 1960s.

Can’t believe it was early May that we went to the opening of this excellent show in the University’s Victoria Gallery. McGough and Patten (my Poetry heroes) were there along with Catherine Marcangeli the partner of the late Adrian Henri. We went back again last week for another look.

If, like me, you are a fan of the Liverpool Poets then you won’t want to miss this but there was a lot more to the Mersey Sound than poetry. I would say these guys were at the leading edge of multimedia and performance art at the time. There were the poetry readings, music from the Liverpool Scene, Scaffold, Mike Evans etc. and the ‘theatrical hunour group’ The Liverpool One Fat Lady All Electric Show.

The late Adrian Henri in particular seemed to love ‘happenings’ and organised several around Liverpool, starting with ‘City’ in the Hopie (Hope Hall which later became Everyman Theatre) as part of Merseyside Arts Festival. The happenings included poetry, jazz, dance and live painting.

Its great ot see that this era is so well documented in the exhibition, there’s the posters and flyers, badges and handwritten or type-written poems and notes, this is all pre-digital of course. There are several of Henri’s paintings, copies of the poets books, album covers, photographs etc.

Well worth a visit before it ends on 12 September 2009.

The University acquired the poets’ archive in 2007 following a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a number of other generous benefactors.  The funds have allowed an archivist to catalogue the collections, which will now be showcased to the public at the VG&M for the first time.  This exhibition contains photographs, notebooks and manuscripts from the ‘Liverpool Poets’ archive.