Review: Adrian Henri: Poet / Painter / Performer
St George’s Hall, 12th April – 15th July 2017
Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith
Liverpool has a long tradition of socialism, regardless of how it’s branded, or assigned to political movements. A sort of community politics that invokes the very particular brand of civic pride that defines the city. Small S socialism perfectly summed up by a retrospective exhibition of work by Adrien Henri and the movement he defined with his poetry-and-rock band, Liverpool Scene.
Down in the cells of St George’s Hall, past the history and permanent exhibitions, is a corridor unlike any other in this iconic building. The display of poetry, painting, and posters is a defining glimpse of the talented creative mind behind them, and his connections to the city that is so fundamentally woven into his work.
Walking through the long room, every frame is another insight into this “total artist”, defined by his inability to pin himself down to one outlet, trying always to be both painter and poet. What that brings is a vibrancy and an exhibition that could easily be mistaken as containing the work of four or five artists, not just one.
The ties between poems and paintings come not through subject, or medium, but via an ethic of production. The poster that greets you, and sets the tone for the show, is Long Live Socialism, an inescapable message form Henri to anyone that got close enough to hear it:
city morning. dandelion seed blowing from waste ground.
smell of overgrown privet hedges. children’s voices
in the distance. sounds from the river.
round the corner into Myrtle St. Saturday morning shoppers
headscarves. shopping baskets. dogs.
This exhibition is part of a wider series of exhibitions and events, Tonight at Noon; The exhibitions are at St George’s Hall & Liverpool Central Library until 15th July; the Thurston Moore Group are live at St George’s Hall on 30th May; and Bluecoat hosting a poetry reading on 16th June.
Find out more at cultureliverpool.co.uk/tonightatnoon