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Five must-see exhibitions in June

Greggs, old shop panelling, bird nests and major global news stories are among the inspirations for Laura Davis’ picks of five Wirral exhibitions you won’t want to miss this month

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FIT IT: Leo Fitzmaurice, Convenience Gallery Pop Up until June 8

Abandoned cigarette packets, tossed Coca-Cola cans, littered flyers – Liverpool-based artist Leo Fitzmaurice is drawn to items that appear disposable yet have a habit of hanging around. He comes to a new work with no preconceptions, waiting for the materials or location to inspire him.

This time, his eyes alighted on the wall-panelling inside Birkenhead’s old Marks & Spencer building, currently a pop-up exhibition space run by Convenience Gallery. The “satisfying logic” of these simple, linear panels appealed to him as the housing for a pared-down alphabet.

You can choose to view FIT IT as a graphic pattern or as a text work that can be read in its entirety. Words line the space – black dots and dashes making up the letters against stark white walls, towering over us and demanding attention.

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Pastry and Shame: Ellie Hoskins, Future Walls Gallery, June 11 to August 18

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Ellie Hoskins’ text works capture what it is to be human. Not great, grand thoughts about the meaning of life, but the everyday stuff – the tiny things that can trip us up or give us the push we need to simply get smoothly through the day.

Take these words from an exterior work she created for Bluecoat last year: “Maintaining my optimism in spite of the black mould on my damp walls because today might be the day I find all my favourite things reduced in Tesco.” Frank and funny, with just a touch of nihilism – we all have our version of the black mould, and the yellow-stickered treat that allows us to push it to the back of our thoughts for a bit.

It would be unfair to the quality and longevity of Hoskin’s work to compare it to a 20p pack of jam doughnuts with today’s date on, but its discovery definitely gives you the same spark of joy. Pastry and Shame, her new show at Futurewalls, also takes inspiration from the everyday – from Greggs, the pub and other places that inspire Hoskins’ diarist-style text pieces – alongside a new series of cross hatched drawings.

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Derek Prescott, Start Yard, until June 30

New Brighton-based painter Derek Prescott says he aims to represent nature and the sea at their most beautiful, but his vivid works are not photorealistic.

Under his brush, a view is transformed into an exaggerated version of itself – his sunsets blaze in fierce shades of ochre, amber and terracotta; his birds whirl, silhouetted in glorious spirals; his blackened clouds boil angrily above a patchwork of lush green fields.

And there’s a palpable spirituality to his paintings, a glimpse into the awe-inspiring complexity of nature, whether you give credit for its creation to God/Gods or hold more secular views.

A former art teacher, who worked in Russia and the UK, Prescott has sold his work internationally and has held several solo exhibitions since retirement.

The works in his show at Start Yard were inspired by the local landscapes of Wirral and Wales – expect crashing waves, wild skies and flocks of birds.

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Wirral Open Studios Tour, various locations, June 8-9

An impressive 99 artists will be opening 53 studios throughout Wirral for this year’s annual peak into the lives of painters, sculptors, printmakers, ceramicists, glassmakers, jewellers, photographers and more.

There are too many to cram into a single weekend, so I’d recommend picking a town or two and dropping into the studios housed there at random. Or download the brochure from wirralarts.com, circle the artists that catch your eye and plan your own route around the peninsula.

My picks include Dennis Spicer, at Melrose Hall in Hoylake, where he paints incredibly detailed bird nests, intricate wood piles and slightly ominous still lifes; Carol Emmas, at Kent Street Studio in Oxton, who uses photography and painting to capture fleeting moments in nature; and printmaker Jane Bell, at 55a Market Street, Hoylake, whose works are based on her own sketches.

Whatever method you choose, Wirral is rich with artistic talent that you can’t really go wrong.

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The BPPA’s Assignments 2024, Bridge Cottage, Port Sunlight, June 8-30

The most striking images by members of the British Press Photographers’ Association are touring to Port Sunlight this month.

This year’s Assignments exhibition has been curated by five leading industry figures including Suzanne Plunkett, who as an Associated Press staffer took one of the iconic photographs of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center.

Taken from March 2023 to this spring 2024, the photos feature sports, entertainment, politics, protests, royals, celebrities and global events.

The exhibition was previously shown at The Bargehouse on London’s Southbank so its trip to Wirral is a bit of a coup for Port Sunlight Village Trust.

Laura Davis is the writer of Stored Honey, a twice weekly newsletter and accompanying podcast celebrating the arts and culture scene in Liverpool and the whole of the North West. You can read and subscribe for free at www.stored-honey.com

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