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Issue:- 19/20 May 2010

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool...

TWO, very interesting, free, special exhibitions are currently on offer at the Walker Art Gallery, in William Brown Street, Liverpool. The 50 plus prints in the Toulouse- Lautrec exhibition capture the popular imagination. The subjects are mostly images of working ladies, known to the painter in Paris, including English dancer, Jane Avril and actress, Sarah Bernhardt, portrayed in scenes from daily life. Many of his works are well known and are warm, even witty and easily enjoyed. This exhibition remains open until 8 August 2010.

The second exhibition that we visited was more unusual, entitled, ‘The Rise of Women Artists’, it celebrates the work of females who have produced outstanding work in a very male dominated world. From fine needlework; some by children as young as 10 years old, to delicate pottery painting, through vases and other artefacts, to powerful paintings, both classical and modern; it is astounding to realize how much women were contributing to the arts, often with little recognition. Female artists who did ‘make it’ were often from artistic families who encouraged and enabled them to succeed. But, whereas the names of male artists can be reeled out by many of us, by the dozen, it is much harder to represent the ladies. This exhibition is a valuable contribution to addressing this issue. It remains until 1 August 2010 and is well worth a visit in its own right.

A further exhibition is listed which we have not yet seen. Open until 30 September, “Dare to Wear: glass dresses and barbed wire corsets by contemporary artist, Diana Dias-Leao”: is a challenging subject by all accounts!

Whilst we were visiting, various musicians and dancers and other artists were giving performances throughout the gallery, which added atmosphere and enjoyment. At the time of our visit was an intriguing piece, ‘Dances with Statues’, in which two university lecturers, Gillian Yates and Sarah Spies and two local fine arts students sought to breathe new life into stone cold statues. The performances were site specific; and through the interweave of music, via the hauntingly beautiful tones of Gillian Yates, special poetry, interesting use of fabrics, and skilful drama and dance, the group engaged with different statues around the gallery, provided a unique narrative about the stories of each one in turn. It was a truly original and thought provoking enterprise; all the more so as an added bonus to our visit.

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