The Liverpool Art Prize

From Flight (dellschau)
Jason Thompson, From Flight (dellschau)

Review by Kate Chesters

Back in the venue where it all started 7 years ago, the Liverpool Art Prize exhibition is open once again at Metal. Art in Liverpool sent Art History and Curating MA student Kate Chesters to discover more about the work of the shortlisted artists for 2014.

The Liverpool Art Prize is a yearly competition which invites local artists to create a body of work in response to being shortlisted. Displayed at Metal in Edge Hill Station, the works by the final three artists capture unique aspects of the city of Liverpool. This year’s shortlisted artists are Jason Thompson, Brigitte Jurack, and Tabitha Jussa. Prizes for the winner include £2000 and a solo exhibition at the Bluecoat Gallery.

The first space in the exhibition at Metal features the work of Liverpool-born artist Jason Thompson. The inspiration for Thompson’s work comes from mechanical, botanical and anatomical diagrams. The paintings by Thompson are unusually displayed: each work being individual in its shape, size, style, and content. It is unclear at times whether you are looking at the art work or the wall, or whether the two merge as one. The works are arranged on top of a collaged background made up of layers of found objects: wood, paper, tape, screws and nails, and even a sheet of cardboard from a delivery parcel. Seemingly random titles have been given to a number of the works – The People Eat the King, for example – and there is a lack of text on the walls to give further information about individual works. However, this is not necessarily needed as the works are vibrant enough to speak for themselves. Each work is made up of brightly coloured shapes arranged in a loosely symmetrical kaleidoscopic pattern. The repetitive shapes are made by copying and mirroring parts of the painting, so through this process the work begins to paint itself almost through a natural evolutionary development. Both sketch books and finished paintings have been displayed by Thompson to demonstrate this process of creation.

Brigitte Jurack, Footballs and Coats
Brigitte Jurack, Footballs and Coats

The second room of the exhibition features the work of Brigitte Jurack. In this space the artist has displayed a wide range of media at varying heights, from floor based pieces to works displayed at around ten feet high. This room is an interesting contrast to the work of Thompson as Jurack’s pieces are mainly sculptural.

The works by Jurack seem to be the artist’s own representation of nature, inspired by her experience with it. Throughout the floor space there is a tall green structure, a large ‘rock’ decorated with a brightly coloured geometric design, and nature inspired ‘clothing’. Jurack’s work appears to redesign nature to give a new and unique variation of it.

The third space in the gallery houses photographs by Tabitha Jussa. These large scale images provide the viewer a base for discussion regarding current social housing situations in Liverpool, specifically Anfield and Everton. Jussa’s photographs show unused houses with boarded up windows and doors. The images are simple in their style; however, they prompt the viewer to question how effectively available space and facilities are used within the city.

Additional information is provided alongside the images – an electoral register and Liverpool street directory listing timeline, a quote from the Ministry of Health, and several books discussing social housing – which provide a broader context to inform the viewer of the content of the photographs. A quote made by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1912 is displayed, stating that if light can enter a household then there will be health, and with health there is happiness – the houses shown in Jussa’s photographs are boarded up with no sunlight being able to penetrate the windows and walls. They are unhealthy and unhappy places unsuitable for human inhabitation. The theme of dereliction is emphasised by the lack of human life in the images.

The Liverpool Art Prize, which is in its seventh consecutive year, is managed by Metal, an innovative and multi-disciplinary space for artists to develop their ideas and potentially influence political and social issues in contemporary society. The winner will be announced on 18 June at Metal. Prizes include £2000 and a solo exhibition at the Bluecoat Gallery. A ballot box is also available in the gallery for visitors to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award, with the winning artist receiving £1000. Last year’s winner, Tabitha Moses, became the first artist to win both the People’s Choice and the overall prize in the same year.

The Liverpool Art Prize is open Thursday-Saturday 11.00 – 17.00 at Metal until 17 June. The award ceremony will take place 18 June 18.00 – 20.00 with the winner selected by the judging panel: Pavel Büchler, Francesco Manacorda, and Simon Poulter.


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