Liverpool Arts Diary: Badlands, Beethoven and the John Moore Painting Prize 2020 – February 2020


Liverpool Arts Diary February 2020

Poetry, experimental art and music at the heart of Europe as we round up a selection of the best arts in Liverpool for February. 

So, here we go, for the first time in most of our lifetimes we, as a nation, are cast adrift from our nearest friends and neighbours, not of their making, but ours. Brexit (and isn’t that such an ugly word?) has happened.

We’ve written a lot about it at Getntothis but now reality has bitten.

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that it might not go too well.

It might not actually give us a promised new land, or a bright new dawn, but something that is mediocre, sepia-toned and grim, all we heard in the pre – Brexit debate were (apart from the lies of course) endless lines about the economic benefits and how we would all be masters of our own destiny.

Very notable by its very absence was how our self-inflicted severance would affect us in other ways.

Maybe in less tangible and measurable ways, but just as important, and for this writer, maybe more so, how will the promised land affect the arts, our music, film, theatre, writing and more?

Will we be closed off from our neighbours and friends, staring hopelessly over the wall from a cul-de-sac of our own making and with no hope of joining them, will we become a mere adjunct to America, the 51st state of the USA and aping their culture and arts?

Or will we become isolated, either throwing ourselves back to the mid-1950s and producing art that is stuck in the past, with no relevance to the wider world?

Will we become an island marked alone and irrelevant, will we produce strange and inbred art, weird mixtures and inward-looking of pre-1970 insights, endlessly regurgitating the same old tropes until we come up with the artistic equivalent of the duck-billed platypus?

Let’s hope not.

It’s not simply down to artists, working in whatever media, but us as consumers and lovers of art to actively resist and challenge the inward-looking impulses.

It’s possibly more important that we, as consumers of art, continue looking to Europe, embrace, discover and welcome everything that’s out there.

Now’s our chance.
Let’s not shut the door.

Let’s not just even keep it open but rip it off the hinges and throw it in the skip forever.

Rick Leach
Arts Editor

Vincent Kelly: Buffalo Winter

dot-art Gallery, Liverpool
Until March 14

The new exhibition at dot-art Gallery showcases the works of four contemporary artists from the North-West, each sharing the practice of digital art and pixel manipulation.

A widely debated art form, digital art explores the crossover of creativity and technology, with many digital resources emulating traditional fine art tools allowing artists an unlimited platform to express themselves. Pixel is an exhibition showcasing the art of artists who are no longer bound by tradition.

The showcase comprises of paintings, collage and sculpture, each piece realised by innovative computer technology and the digital emulation of traditional fine art tools.

James Chadderton’s series consists of theatrical post-apocalyptic landscapes, collapsing the boundaries between traditional and composite drawing. James’ drawing style is characterised by a tendency towards realism, or moments of fantasy within realistic portrayals.

Mixing vintage images with her own photography, Liverpool artist Olga Snell uses digital software rather than scissors and glue to create surreal, retro-futuristic collages. Her playful new series Re-Imagined juxtaposes images that are hundreds of years old with contemporary objects, rearranging elements to digitized folktales.

This exhibition also features new collections by digital collagist Vincent Kelly as well as laser-etched sculpture by Susan Williams.

Yeol Eum Son

Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 ‘Emperor’
Symphony No.4 ‘Romantic’

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Andrew Manze conductor
Yeol Eum Son 

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
February 9 2.30pm

The year is famed for the 250th anniversary year of the birth of Beethoven. It makes you wonder which of today’s artists that will not only be listened to in two and a half centuries but still will be as vital and as fresh?

Beethoven never actually named his fifth piano concerto The Emperor, but the name given to it by his English publisher just seemed to fit. The Orchestra lays down the challenge; the piano takes no prisoners- this is a musical duel on the grandest possible scale, and as the award-winning Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son makes her Liverpool debut, you won’t have heard anything quite like it.

Following this, there’s the treat of Bruckner’s huge Romantic symphony.

This is a double-bill not to be missed.

Martin Sheen & Sissy Spacek in Terrence Malick’s Badlands

Picturehouse at FACT
February 13 6.30pm

One of the most impressive American directorial debuts ever, Terrence Malick’s Badlands focuses on James Dean-lookalike garbage collector Kit (Martin Sheen in his breakthrough role) and listless schoolgirl Holly (Sissy Spacek), who embark on an apparently random killing-spree after the girl’s father objects to the pair’s relationship.  The film evokes a post-war rural Midwest of near-halcyon innocence, despite the ever-present threat (and history) of violence.

But what makes it so special is Malick’s sophisticated, coolly ironic approach to motivation, with Holly’s voiceover (in the style of the celebrity-obsessed magazines she’s forever reading) tellingly balanced both by the fugitive couple’s actions and by Kit’s oddly moralistic pronouncements, uttered with a view to posterity.

The brilliance of the leads’ performances is merely the jewel in an exquisite crown.

Get yourself down to Picturehouse at FACT for a film you’ll remember forever.

Indiana Jones to Tarkovsky: falling in love with the movies and a personal journey through cinema

Painted Dens at TATE Liverpool

Painted Dens
TATE Liverpool
15 to 23 February

Mid-February means half terms and the Tate is giving the chance for kids to get creative, from their head to their toes. They can use their hands and feet in the Tate’s half term workshop and join them in transforming their studio into a painted paradise.

This February they’re constructing canvas dens and inviting hands, feet and brushes to decorate white canvases and make them into structures to sit in, hide in and play in.

Alex Parks: Flat

Flat- High Rise Architecture & Relations To Animated Spaces
Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk
Until March 28

A hypnotic and interactive installation by Alex Jukes to make you think about where you live, work and play.

The exhibition also considers how cities are designed and alter over time, buildings demolished or altered to suit a change of use and shows our responses to our changing needs and the way we inhabit space.

There’s also a free talk by Alex Jukes on February 15 at 2.00pm.

Zoë Skoulding, Eleanor Rees, Helen Tookey

Other Cities/Other Lives
Zoë Skoulding, Eleanor Rees, Helen Tookey
Bluecoat, Liverpool
February 20 6.30pm

Three leading contemporary poets read from their new collections exploring more-than-human perspectives on place and landscape. Cities, rivers, parklands and docks all come to life as these innovative poets re-imagine, for these complex times, what it is to be human.

Best 20 culture events for 2020: the top arts events, exhibitions, theatre, festivals of the year

Jury announced for John Moores Painting Prize 2020

National Museums Liverpool has announced the jury for the John Moores Painting Prize 2020, ahead of the call for entries opening from  February 17 until March 24 2020. The competition, held at the Walker Art Gallery, has celebrated the very best in modern and contemporary painting for more than 60 years.

This year, it is also set to launch a new Emerging Artist Prize.

A combined total of almost £40,000 will be distributed across seven prizes, with the first prize winner collecting £25,000 and having a solo display at the Walker Art Gallery. The paintings are judged anonymously, with the biennial competition regularly attracting several thousand entries.

Vistors at the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 (Credit: Gareth Jones)

In addition to selecting the prizewinning works, the jurors decide which paintings will be exhibited in the John Moores Painting Prize 2020 exhibition, which takes place at the Walker Art Gallery from September 19 2020 to February 14 2021.

The jury tasked with selecting the winners represent a diverse group of artists and creative influencers. They are, Hurvin Anderson; Michelle Williams Gamaker; Alison Goldfrapp; Jennifer Higgie and Gu Wenda.

Hurvin Anderson, a painter whose work explores spaces occupied by Caribbean immigrants, which function as sites for both social gatherings and economic enterprise. These settings represent the artist’s personal and cultural memories of functional spaces and shared experiences of the Caribbean.

Born in Birmingham, United Kingdom, to parents of Jamaican descent, Anderson studied at the Wimbledon School of Art followed by the Royal College of Art, where he explored the relevance of figuration in a world dominated by abstraction and conceptual art. Since then, he has pursued both landscape and abstract painting. Anderson has exhibited extensively and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2017.

Michelle Williams Gamaker, an artist working with moving image and performance. She is currently developing ‘fictional activism’; the restoration of marginalised characters of colour as central figures, who return as vocal protagonists to challenge the fictional injustices to which they have been historically consigned. She recently completed a trilogy of films titled Dissolution (2019), comprising House of Women (2017), The Fruit is There to be Eaten (2018) and The Eternal Return (2019).

In May, she will premiere her new film The Silver Wave (2020) at Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. Williams Gamaker is a Lecturer on the BA Fine Art programme at Goldsmiths and is Chair of Trustees of the visual arts organisation Pavilion in Leeds.

Alison Goldfrapp is a British-based artist. She studied fine art at Middlesex University before embarking on a career in music that has spanned more than 26 years. Alison formed Goldfrapp with Will Gregory in 1999 and subsequently signed to Mute Records. Together they have released seven albums. The multi-platinum selling band have been nominated for the Mercury Prize, multiple Grammy Awards and won an Ivor Novello for Strict Machine.

Goldfrapp have scored the soundtracks to the films My Summer of Love and Nowhere Boy as well as the music for Carrie Cracknell’s National Theatre production of Medea.

Fine art, music and photography have played an equally vital role in her creative expression. Alison was chosen as the first ‘Performer as Curator’ for The Lowry, Salford, for her “remarkable synthesis of music and visual imagery”. She photographed the artwork for Goldfrapp’s recent album Silver Eye and directed music videos for their tracks Systemagic, Everything Is Never Enough and Ocean. Alison is currently producing a new series of artworks at her East London studio for a show later this year.

Jennifer Higgie is staff writer and Editor-at-large of frieze magazine, and the writer and presenter of Bow Down; the podcast about women in art history.

She also writes screenplays and is the writer and illustrator of the children’s book There’s Not One. Higgie is the editor of The Artist’s Joke and author of the novel Bedlam. Her book The Mirror and the Palette, about women’s historical self-portraits, will be published in 2021.

She has been a judge of the Paul Hamlyn Award and the Turner Prize, as well as a member of the selection panel for the British artist at the Venice Biennale and the advisory boards of Arts Council England, the Contemporary Art Society and the Imperial War Museum Art Commissions Committee.

Gu Wenda, an artist born in Shanghai. Wenda has lived and worked in both New York and Shanghai since 1988. In 1981, he received his MFA from China Academy of Arts, where he taught traditional Chinese painting from 1981 to 1987.

In 1987, he received the Canada Council for the Arts award for visiting artists. In 1999, Gu Wenda’s art project United Nations made a cover story on the March issue of Art in America. In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Asian Contemporary Art at the Prudential Eye Awards, Singapore.

Artist, Hurvin Anderson said: “I’m honoured and excited to be included in this year’s John Moores Painting Prize jury. The Prize is well respected by painters and with good reason. There is always an interesting debate among artists when the winner is announced and I’ve often found that painters and the jury have shared the same opinion, so the Prize is considered an important and relevant reflection of contemporary painting. I’m looking forward to looking at some fantastic works and discussing them with my fellow jurors.”

Artist, Alison Goldfrapp said: “The John Moores Painting Prize has an unparalleled reputation for attracting some of the UK’s most talented and innovative artists. It’s a great honour being part of this year’s jury and taking on the challenge of choosing the prizewinning works. I’m expecting lots of lively debate across the panel as we delve into what I’m sure will be a diverse and exciting selection.”

Once they have selected the works for the exhibition, the jurors select a final shortlist of five paintings, from which the £25,000 first prizewinning work will be chosen and four additional prizes of £2,500 awarded.

This year also sees the introduction of the Emerging Artist Prize, supported by Colart. The winner will receive £2,500, plus premium art materials of the same value. Applicants for the Emerging Artist Prize, which eligible entrants may opt into, are still able to win any of the other competition prizes.

Ann Bukantas, Head of Fine Art at National Museums Liverpool, said: “The new Emerging Artist Prize offers the winner some invaluable opportunities.

In addition to the prize money and art supplies, they are offered a residency and display at Colart along with some mentoring to support their career development. We hope that this Prize will provide the winner with the support and freedom to experiment with their work, potentially taking their practice in new and exciting directions.”

Visitors to the John Moores Painting Prize 2020 exhibition are also invited to vote for their favourite painting to win the popular Visitors’ Choice Award, sponsored by Rathbones. The winning artist will receive £2,020.

Named after its sponsoring founder Sir John Moores in 1957, the internationally-renowned Prize, organised in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust, remains true to its founding principle: to support artists and to bring to Liverpool the best contemporary painting from across the UK.

Visitors at the John Moores Painting Prize 2018 (Credit: Gareth Jones)

The John Moores Painting Prize has awarded almost £650,000 in prize money across 30 exhibitions, which have showcased more than 2,250 works of art. It presents a rich history of post-war painting in Britain. The first exhibition was held only six years after the Walker Art Gallery re-opened following the Second World War.

Past prize winners include David Hockney (1967), Mary Martin (1969), Lisa Milroy (1989), Peter Doig (1993), Keith Coventry (2010), Rose Wylie (2014), Michael Simpson (2016) and Jacqui Hallum (2018). Sir Peter Blake, winner of the competition’s then Junior Prize in 1961, is Patron of the Prize.

In addition to the £25,000 prize money, 2018 John Moores Painting Prize winner Jacqui Hallum was awarded a three-month Fellowship and studio residency at Liverpool School of Art & Design (Liverpool John Moores University).

The resulting work is currently on show at the Walker Art Gallery in a solo display, which was also part of her prize. The view from the top of a pyramid: new work by Jacqui Hallum runs until April 26 2020.

The call for entries for the John Moores Painting Prize 2020 runs from February 17 (12 noon) until  March 24 (12 noon) 2020.