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Issue:- 14 April 2010


THE Liverpool Cityscape artist Ben Johnson will be discussing his popular painting at the Walker Art Gallery before it is transferred to its permanent home at the Museum of Liverpool, which opens on 19 July 2011.

The talk will take place on 19 April 2011, at 12.00pm and will be a retrospective look back at Ben’s experience in Liverpool which he calls ‘a dream come true’.

The Liverpool Cityscape was worked on in front of a live audience at the Walker Art Gallery in 2008 as part Liverpool’s year as Capital of Culture. A highlight of the year for the gallery was the high turnover of 50,726 visitors at the Walker Art Gallery to see Ben complete the 8ft x 16ft panoramic which is the largest and most complex painting he has ever undertaken.

In what is likely to be Ben’s last public discussion on The Liverpool Cityscape at the Walker, he will talk about the extensive research that went into the painting. This involved spending time in Liverpool, finding the best viewpoints, studying the architecture, talking to local experts, making drawings and taking over 3,000 photographs.

Ann Bukantas, head of fine art at the Walker Art Gallery and editor and author of a book about the Cityscape, first came up with the proposal and has worked closely with the project until its impressive conclusion.

Ann Bukantas said that:- “Ben Johnson’s track record in painting expansive detailed panoramas of cities including Jerusalem and Hong Kong made him an obvious choice to tackle such a well-known and well-loved city at an important milestone it its history during the Capital of Culture year. The chance to see Ben talking about The Liverpool Cityscape at the gallery for perhaps the last time is sure to be as captivating as the painting itself. As well as the extensive research he did on the city and its buildings, Ben put his passion and energy into the painting. This reflects his great affection not only for Liverpool but for its people too. The stories they told him had a real impact on him. We can look forward to him talking about these experiences and reflecting on some of the challenges this ambitious project gave him.”

Other likely topics of discussion will focus on Ben recollecting the experience of working on the piece in front of the public which inevitably roused continuous debate and interest.

He will also talk about the public response to the painting when it was loaned to the National Gallery in London, and compare the reactions to its London counterpart, against the sheer popularity of The Liverpool Cityscape.

Ben Johnson said:- “Having spent three years painting every building within the city of Liverpool and having spent five weeks during the residency meeting the warm and wonderful people of Liverpool, my trip this time gives me a feeling of coming home. The buildings alone make this a great city but when you meet the people you know this is a very special place.”

A book signing will also take place after the talk at 1pm when Ben will be signing copies of his book, Cityscape – Ben Johnson’s Liverpool.

The Liverpool Cityscape will go on display in the Museum of Liverpool: the largest newly-built national museum in Britain for more than a century. Visitors will be able to see the painting in the Skylight Gallery when the Museum opens on 19 July 2011.

The Liverpool Cityscape facts:-

► Ben Johnson was born in 1946 in Llandudno and studied at the Royal College of Art in London. He was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1990, the only contemporary painter to be so honoured, for his contribution to the public understanding of contemporary architecture.

► At 8ft x 16ft, the Liverpool Cityscape is Ben Johnson’s largest single-canvas painting to date and took over three years to make, occupying some 24,000 person hours.

► The finished painting was displayed for the first time in the exhibition Ben Johnson’s Liverpool Cityscape 2008 and the World Panorama Series at the Walker Art Gallery in 2008.

► Despite the immense detail in the painting the absence of people in it was a deliberate step and according to Ben should act as a catalyst for visitors to put themselves into the painting via their own recollections and stories of the city.

► The painting encompasses several thousand individual buildings with the artist employing subtle distortion in order for key landmarks to be brought into clearer view such as Anfield and Goodison, the Chinese Arch and the Greek Orthodox Church.


Walk and talk through Liverpool’s Heritage

HOW would you like to follow in the footsteps of the people whose cultural influence throughout the centuries helped shape the city?

As part of International World Heritage Day, the Routes of Liverpool tour will guide you through the journeys of passengers from around the world who arrived and departed from Liverpool and forever left their mark on the city.

Head of Tourism, Keith Blundell, said:- “International World Heritage Day is a chance for us to celebrate the unique history we have here in Liverpool. We have an amazing heritage on our doorstep and one of the aims of the day is to encourage as many people as possible to come along to one of our guided walks or talks and learn about the people, the places and the stories that made Liverpool the city it is today. We also need to look at new ways we can continue to enhance and protect these wonderful sites for future generations, and these events will show everyone how they can play their part.”

At 10am you can join community historian, Steve Binns, at the Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas as he recounts the many tales of maritime misfortunes throughout Liverpool’s history.

Beginning at the Bluecoat Arts Centre, a guided walk of some of the famous trading places that made Liverpool a major mercantile city, will take place in the afternoon.

The day will end with World Heritage Officer, John Hinchcliffe, talking about how Liverpool’s unique waterfront can be protected and enhanced for future visitors to enjoy for many years.

All aboard the Census bus

THE Census bus is in Liverpool on Thursday, 14 April 2011, to help people who have not yet returned their forms. The vehicle is in the city centre to remind the public to fill in their census forms and provide them with face-to-face help. The message to the public is:- “Don’t be the one who forgets or you could face a court appearance and a fine.” The distinctively coloured purple bus, the star of the national census advertising campaign on television and on billboards nationwide, will park in Williamson Square. Census officials on board will give the public a helping hand with their census from 10pm to 4pm. ONS Census Director Glen Watson said:- “This week our collectors started their house-to-house calls nationwide and Liverpool is another stop for our census team tour around the country. We know a lot of people in the north west lead busy lives so in many cases they just need a gentle reminder to fill in their forms. Others may have completely forgotten, some may have left the form on a bookshelf or in a drawer in the office. Whatever the reason, we hope the eye-catching bus and team of census helpers will help remind people in Liverpool of the urgency to fill in their form. The bus has also been in Nelson, Lancashire and Manchester to further boost the regional census return rate giving the public there a gentle nudge too. It takes an average family of four around 30 minutes to fill in their form and the quickest and easiest way to fill it in is to do it online. There’s still time but don’t be the one who forgets as you could end up being fined.” A team of census helpers will offer assistance to anyone who needs it as well as issuing new questionnaires to those who have misplaced theirs. The team will also include local language specialists who speak Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali and Polish who can help people understand why the census is so important, and answer any queries they have about the process they need to follow. 3 quarters of the population in England and Wales have already completed and returned their census questionnaires, but there are still householders in Liverpool that have not done so. During the last Census, only 89% of households in Liverpool returned the document, compared to a national average of 94%. It is estimated that the city’s population was underestimated by over 10,000 people – meaning it lost out on over £150 million in funding over the decade. The amount of money that public services such as the police, fire, ambulance, the NHS and the council receive is based upon the city’s population, so it is vital it is as accurate as possible. 2011 Census Area Manager for Liverpool, Nicola Shaw, added:- “While most people have been able to complete their census questionnaires without assistance, some require clarification on how to answer some of the questions, so in addition to the help online and telephone helpline, we are also getting out and about and giving people the opportunity for some face-to-face help.” Census questionnaires can still be completed on paper, or online, and should refer to your living situation on 27 March 2011. Anyone who has not yet received a questionnaire, or needs help should call the helpline on:- 0300 0201 101.

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