Friday, April 12, 2024
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Discovering Liverpool Central Library & Williamson Art Gallery

Discovering Liverpool Central Library & Williamson Art Gallery
by Lorraine Bacchus

One of the most challenging aspects of being an artist is putting the work out there because in doing so it raises a lot of difficult questions:  Why am I doing this?  Am I saying the work is finished?  Am I ready for public scrutiny of my work?  And so on.  It starts right at the beginning of an artist’s career and the process doesn’t get any easier.

Organising and curating exhibitions is part of any art degree, and Liverpool Central Library was the recent venue for a one-day show by a group of 2nd year Fine Art Students from Hope University.  It’s a while since I saw what students are focusing on in their art and, needing no encouragement to visit the stunning Central Library, off I went.

I have to admit that on first walking into the show it felt like the work was struggling to have any impact on the windowless meeting room.  It was also dominated by one student’s rather loud soundtrack to a large projection.  But this is all part of the learning process and next time, hopefully, such work will have its own space, or at least have headphones to silence the sound and allow the other work to breathe.

image credit: Courtesy of Saffron Ashworth & the artists

Once I started talking to the students it all became more interesting.  They were able to stand by their work with confidence and, crucially, not over-analyse it.  As the late Leonard Cohen said, the mechanics of creativity are mysterious and “if you looked too deeply into the process you’d end up in a state of paralysis”.  Given the age we live in, I had expected to see a lot of digital technology being used but to my surprise it was painting and analogue techniques that held sway.  It was enjoyable chatting to them all and great to feel their enthusiasm for the visual arts.

Another foray took me to Oxton, home of the Williamson Art Gallery and also of my 93-year-old aunt, who has been a long-term supporter of the gallery.  The day I went last month (February) I found something rather forlorn about some of the permanent art displays, which were competing with stacks of chairs and dark walls and screens.  However, the art materials shop in the large entrance hall is a great find.  Such a good idea!  It is run by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable young Polish woman, Kat Miturska, who is herself an artist.  It is really well stocked and with products from her native Poland that are all new to me.  It’s always a treat to have new materials to work with.