John Moores Painting Prize – Oct 2016

My next outing in Liverpool took me to the Walker Art Gallery to see the John Moores Painting prize. Before looking at the painting prize exhibition I had a mandatory perusal of the permanent displays on the ground floor, a visual trip through time from classical design to designs of the near future.

I particularly like the strained expressions in old paintings where discrepancies in body proportions make for some amusing figures, much like the piture above right.


On my ascent up the rather grand staircase I was immediately confronted with ‘ZOO LOGIC’, a large, inflatable Felix the Cat. ‘ZOO LOGIC’ is one of two installation pieces in this space, both of which are the product of Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey.

Leckey’s fascination with moving image and technology are in evidence in both pieces but particularly more so with ‘FEELINTHECAT’, a two screened video piece showing the artists own transformation into Felix the Cat shown inside a dome shaped like Felix’s head.

I think of the two pieces Leckey presents here I was far keener on ‘ZOO LOGIC’ (pictured above). ‘FEELINTHECAT’ felt a bit overwhelming, the combination of unrelenting video effects and the close proximity in which character dress up comes to the edge of clown-like and the way in which they are now asscoiated serve to make the viewer feel uncomfortable. There is something almost eerie about the Felix character who, outwardly, still appears to be not from this era. ‘ZOO LOGIC’, however feels much more approachable and cartoon-like.

John Moores Painting Prize 2016

The John Moores Painting Prize is part of the Liverpool Biennial and brings together some of the best new painting in the UK. Subjects, mediums and themes covered in this years painting prize were hugely diverse but the qaulity of the work on show was of the highest standard.

First Prize went to Michael Simpson with his piece ‘Squint (19)‘.

Visitors Choice Prize went to Donal Molony with the busy piece ‘Cave Floor‘.

Other prize winners include: Talar Aghbashian, Gabriella Boyd, Benjamin Jamie and Selma Parlour.


I had two favourite pieces in the exhibition which were as follows:

Graham Crowley’s ‘Blue Drift‘ – A mesmerising and tranquil water scene where deep, steely-blue water is only broken by the brightly coloured boats that float along the mirrored water surface.

Lee Marshall ‘Midnight I‘ – This piece absolutely glows when one stands before it, the deep red glow is unlike anything I have every seen in a painting. One cannot help but feel a sense of sorrow or loss.

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Other paintings from the show can be seen in the above slideshow.

Food for Thought

Finally, on the way out of the exhibition there was a rather amusing wall, the Musuem asking visitors what question they would ask an artist. The rather amusing answers can be seen below.


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Walker Art Gallery (2016) Artists for the John Moores painting prize 2016 – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums. Available at: (Accessed: 22 December 2016).

Walker Art Gallery (2016) John Moores painting prize 2016 – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums. Available at: (Accessed: 22 December 2016).

Walker Art Gallery (2016) ZOO LOGIC by Mark Leckey, Felix the cat based installations – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums. Available at: (Accessed: 22 December 2016).

Tate Liverpool – Sept 2016

Apologies for (once again) providing a belated documentation of my travels but time is only now allowing me to do this write up. 2016 saw Liverpool Biennial return to the city for it’s ninth incarnation with an exciting, city-wide arts programme.

Dazzle Ship

My visit to Albert Dock saw me immediately greeted by the World War I ‘Dazzle Ship’, a co-commision between 14-18 NOW, Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool (not to be confused with ‘Everybody Razzle Dazzle‘ by Peter Blake) that has transformed 1953 built Pilot Vessel ‘Edmund Gardner’ (National Historic Ships UK, 2009) into a Dazzle Ship representative of those seen during WWI. Dazzle Ships, the brain-child of Norman Wilkinson, were painted in striking colours and patterns to confuse German Submarines and make them harder to locate and attack. The design of the Dazzle Ship livery was heavily inspired by Cubist painting techniques (Liverpool Museum, 2016). The livery that ‘Edmund Gardener’ currently wears (pictured below) is the work of Paris-based artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (Jones, 2014).


Dazzle Ship, Albert Dock, Liverpool, 2016.

Liverpool Biennial – Tate Liverpool

“Liverpool Biennial 2016 explores fictions, stories and histories, taking viewers on a series of voyages through time and space, drawing on Liverpool’s past, present and future. These journeys take the form of six ‘episodes’: Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s Episode, Software, Monuments from the Future and Flashback. They are sited in galleries, public spaces, unused buildings, through live performance and online” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).

Tate Liverpool’s first floor played host to the Ancient Greece ‘episode’ of the Biennial, a reimagining of worlds in which Ancient Greece and modern day collide and emerge as a single reality, a reminder of neoclassical architecture of the 1800’s (National Museums Liverpool, 2016). Classical sculpture stands alongside newly commissioned artworks.

Many of the classical sculptures on display are part of the Ince Blundell collection, a marriaging of various classical sculpture parts to other sculpture that does not neccessarily belong. The Blundell collection sees female heads attached to male bodies and extremities attached to the wrong side of the body, almost as if the coupling of Ancient Greece and 2016 is not without consequence.

“Alongside Blundell’s figures and fragments, Koenraad Dedobbeleer has made a series of display structures to support the classical sculptures in their new context. Andreas Angelidakis’s new film looks at Ancient Greek vases, and how they were used to spread news and myth, comparing this dissemination to the internet. Jumana Manna’s work draws parallels between Athens and Jerusalem to relate how their stories both contributed to the West’s self-construction, which in turn mirrored and partially shaped the economy and politics of the Middle East. Betty Woodman’s mural depicts a domestic scene, complete with three-dimensional ceramic objects” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).

Andreas Angelidakis’ work (pictured above) beautifully brought together the ancient greek arcitecture into our world, little models of fantastical dwellings seem more familiar to our world with the inclusion of (mass produced) books.

This linking of our two worlds was further enforced through the scattering of litter throughout the gallery space. This, I felt, was highly efective in keeping the idea of a combined reality in our thoughts.


Vase with Festoon of Flowers and Dictionary, 2016′ (pictured below) was a  standout piece for me by artist Jumana Manna. “Weaving together the methods of historian, anthropologist and performer, Manna’s films and sculptures question the limits of the body in relation to historic narratives of nationalism” (National Museums Liverpool, 2016).


Learning Centre

A trip anywhere is not complete without passing through the learning area! Although this area is aimed to engage young children with the act of art making it does provide an artist with area to escape from their own strict studio practice. Pictured below are examples of some of the creations made when I was let loose in the Learning Centre.

Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus


At first glance, Emin and Blake might not seem to be likely bedfellows (if you’ll pardon the pun) but dig a little deeper and parrallels begin to appear.

My Bed (1998) offers the viewer an intimate glimpse into the life of the artist during a particularly messy period in her life, it is a portrait of truth and and pain not unlike the work of Blake.

“Blake stood against the hypocrisies of his age championing liberalism, sexual freedoms and above all freedom of expression. This new display affirms Blake’s Romantic idea of artistic truth through existential pain and the possibility of spiritual rebirth through art, shared in the work of Tracey Emin” (Tate, 2016).

For me, this was the first time seeing ‘My Bed’ in person. I had seen it thousands of times in reproduced images but the only way to truly experience this piece is to see it in person for there is one sense that cannot be reproduced – smell. I was quite taken aback just how potent ‘My Bed’ actually is.


‘Constellations’ presents pieces from Tate’s collection in a new light. The Exhibition space here can be thought of as an astrology map, major artworks take on the role of constallations that act as a trigger and are surrounded by other artworks that take inspiration from the constallation (Tate, 2016).

Selected artists include Barbara Hepworth, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Rachel Whiteread, Grayson Perry and Grayson Perry.

One of the stand out pieces here is Enrico David’s 2002 ‘Untitled’ piece (pictured above and below).

 Anther piece worthy of note is ‘Painter’, a 1995 video piece presenting a satire of an artist’s life. A very clever piece and a must see!


Jones, C. (2014) Gallery: World war I ‘dazzle ship’ is transformed on Liverpool’s waterfront. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Liverpool Museum (2016) Dazzle ship – Merseyside maritime museum, Liverpool museums. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

National Historic Ships UK (2009) Edmund Gardner · national historic ships UK. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

National Museums Liverpool, N.M. (2016) Liverpool biennial: Festival of contemporary art. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2016) Constellations highlights from the nation’s collection of modern art. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2006) Painter, Paul McCarthy 1995 | Tate Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2016) Everybody Razzle dazzle. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

Tate (2016) Tracey Emin and William Blake in focus. Available at: (Accessed: 21 December 2016).

In the Studio – Things don’t always go to plan!

I’ve recently been trying to find objects that I can use to force my expanding foam objects into different shapes (as opposed to squares) with the results being not quite what I was expecting.


The first object I’d selected was a peg basket, I thought the holes in the basket might provide some nice, gnarly tendrils (or similar) and might look quite like intestines. What I had failed to account for was that the foam would indeed push through the holes in the basket but that was as far as they really went, creating individual finger-like appendages that did not connect. To remove them from the plastic would have removed their rather pleasing and natural formation so I had to incorporate the entire foam covered basket into this piece and disguise the origins of the object (this will be covered in a later post).

Another unexpected aspect of this piece occurred after I had left the studio for the night. The foam had continued to grow and expand and has gained a beautiful but tumour-like growth. This is the organic but disgusting aesthetic that I feel my work needs.


Whilst in an art supplies shop I came across these charming cardboard photo frames. The frames themselves have a tiny aperture for keeping your photographs, perhaps only capable of holding tiny thumbnail images but in terms of my own work, I felt that these were crying out to be used.


The aperture space was filled with expanding foam and then levelled off. The foam has continued to grow and has taken the form of a spot/pimple. I’m going to play around with this and see how I can make it more uncomfortable and disgusting for the viewer.

The last object that I have been experimenting with was this chip tray. The two ends were clipped together to create a tube and the expanding foam squeezed into the middle.


The initial signs were promising, the foam was creeping through the holes in the material and creating a delicate looking ‘fur’.

Unfortunately that’s when it all started going wrong! The foam continued to expand in very much the wrong places….


Well, not really much to say here!

Until next time,



Paper Gallery – The Cat Show

Tucked away in the shadows of Manchester Victoria Station/Manchester Arena you may find Paper Gallery, a charming micro-gallery with some serious cat-titude.

Their current exhibition, The Cat Show (12th November – 17th December) will paws-itively brighten up the day of anyone familiar with the true purpose of the internet – cat videos.


Cathy Lomax – It woke him up because it was hungry (The Long Goodbye)

Over twenty artists have delved into all aspects of feline life and are showing their work in The Cat Show, an impressive feat considering the space available and the work is displayed in a playful and topical way; the use of Cat accessories as a display method (see below image) is litter-ally a stroke of genius!


What is most telling about the work in The Cat Show is that you can identify those artists who own and live with cats and those who experience them through meme‘s and video’s whilst procrastinating. The rhetoric of those who own cats is perhaps slightly more jaded and long suffering!

The Cat Show brings together such a rich and diverse collection of Cat Art that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most hardcore of cat enthusiasts and procrastinators.


Lisa Wilkens – Three Nights

In a world that takes itself too seriously, The Cat Show is the perfect remedy. Allow your spirits to be lifted through  new look into the world of our feline friends.

The Cat Show runs until December 17th at Paper Gallery, Mirabel Street, Manchester and is free entry. Its Purrfect!