The Atkinson: Sea Change: The Art of England’s North West Coast

(c) Martin Parr Magnum, courtesy Rocket Gallery.

23 August– 9 November 2014

Open daily


L.S.Lowry loved painting the sea, so it’s fitting that one of his most prestigious and scarcely-seen works will be the centrepiece of a major exhibition celebrating the transformation of the north west coast over the last two centuries.

Major British artists have been inspired by the NW coastline, from Antony Gormley for his iconic sculpture at Crosby beach to Morecambe Bay landscape painters  JMW Turner and David Cox.

Lowry’s oil on canvas “July, The Seaside”, on loan to The Atkinson from Arts Council England’s Southbank Centre, London, was painted in 1943 and demonstrates the artist’s inability to paint shadows. A dull day and a beach set against an industrial background perfectly depict what he once said: “I only deal with poverty and gloom. I never do a jolly picture”.


This major exhibition of paintings, poetry, sculpture and state-of-the-art film includes two exhibits from documentary photographer Martin Parr’s iconic  “The Last Resort” collection featuring a dilapidated New Brighton in the 1980s.

An archival print of the late Irish photographer Chambre Hardman featuring “The Birth Of The Ark Royal” has also been loaned by the National Trust. This world famous 1950s photograph of the HMS Ark Royal was taken from the top of Holt Hill in Birkenhead. The ship had just been painted white, as part of preparations for its launch from the Cammell Laird shipyard by the Queen Mother.

Picture Post photographer Bert Hardy’s iconic Blackpool Belles photograph featuring two girls sitting on railings on Blackpool’s beachfront in July 1951 will also be exhibited. The picture appeared on the front cover of the magazine and later became an iconic image of life in post-war Britain

Representing the modern political seachange are Cumbria-based ceramicist Paul Scott with his enamel plate featuring a Sellafield screenprint and Andy Goldsworthy who makes a stance with his photographic collection, Heysham Head.

Contemporary photographer Paul Kenny’s newly-commissioned work made of found materials on Ainsdale Beach symbolises the environmental transformation.

The exhibition is part of the Sefton Coastal Festival, which runs 6-14 September.

For more information please visit or call box office on 01704 533333

The Atkinson, Lord Street, Southport