A Londoner’s Views on the Liverpool Art Scene

From Rachael. Any comments?

Two years ago I bought work from a couple of Liverpool artists, they sell in London, the South East, North East, Scotland, Europe, the states, various places. As a collector this makes me quite happy. Yet these artists appear to go unrecognised in Liverpool and from what I can see, as a Londoner, they appear marginalised. Is there a reason for this? As a frequent visitor to Liverpool I took an interest in this.

Why do all the decent Liverpool artists seem to be in other markets now outside of Liverpool at various levels. I will list as an illustration Peter Chan, Paul Elliker, Gaynor Sweeney, Michelle Campbell, Jo Derbyshire, Derek Culley, Gary Sollars, Naïve John, Jazamin Sinclair, the people who did 59 Powis Street.

As something of an art historian I have been studying Liverpool, looking at local magazines etc I have noticed also that the writers of certain magazines are linked to some artists and give themselves ‘glowing’ reviews, particularly the grassroots magazines. It’s a pity if the artists I bought work from, a few listed above, (obviously I am biased ) if they did the same bout of shameless self promotion they may well be accepted in their own city. I will be hated for saying this but I think that these up and coming artist in a few years time will be fully embraced by Liverpool for their achievements and I can only say shame on you Liverpool. Lets hope you have the decency not to claim them as your own. It really puts me off coming to Liverpool as it has something of a whinge and clique reputation, something that hates outsiders and out of towners alongside its apparent ‘friendly’ façade. Saying that though I am looking forward to seeing some live art this weekend.

Another thing I have noticed is that you may have a monopoly on your hands, by this I mean that some of the ‘major players’ mainly based around the ‘art district’ and Rodney Street appear to have stakes everywhere, does this marginalise local art? Why blame property companies when something internal seems to be ask equally destructive to local talent. I wonder if they are all linked? Do these art organisations/foundations do it because they want to take ownership of everything? Why are they trying to control? from what I can see again its not a free for all but a shameless case of self promotion again for all those involved. I am glad London is not too much of a town without pity with a village attitude and maybe these major players in Liverpool are major here because they just cant get in on the markets elsewhere.


  1. dear rachael Its the old stories who you know and how much time you have to spend to know whos who are so dull here serious artists accept its best to go where its the work that counts to show in “official ” gallerys.its the same in lots of places,an exotic outsider can step in without stepping in politics first.here we locals have to show in shops and cafes and are amateurs compared to the subsisded brigade .this is the core problem .those prepared to stand waiting for oppurtunitys suceed and those who concentrate on art excude themselves from a crap scene .while we may live and work here we are forced like any skilled ecomonic migrant to sell where the market is. for years there has been rubbish promoted here because its subsisdy or loss making finance and we have no “open”
    public art galleries seriously selling art .the View gallerys do their best but are forced to follow what the customer wants which is sadly investment and international style

  2. Regarding Rachael’s Comment:

    I “stumbled” on your site while aimlessly looking at Merseyside, generally. I was born there many years ago. Lived most of my life in Canada and am now in the desert in Southern California.
    You are spot on. It was like that in the late sixties and early seventies when I last lived in Liverpool. But, I’ve shown my work in many places in the world and I’m not sure if it’s more provincial there. I was in New York for 5 years and even there, if one of the “movers and shakers” was behind you it’s smooth sailing and if you were from somewhere else, that helped also. The “Fine Art” world is very academic based, wherever you go. I’ve never really understood that. It’s not the same in music or acting.
    On the other hand, it has ever been thus. The people on the “inside”, (and I have been there, at times) will always accuse this kind of critique as whining and sour grapes.
    Good luck and keep on arting.


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