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Edition No. 98

Date:- 10 May 2003

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Photographs and text thanks to the Walker

LOVERS of architecture, design and organ music are in for a treat when The Audsleys, Masters of Victorian Design display opens at the Walker, 17 May to the 7 September 2003.

The display showcases the work of the brothers William James and George Ashdown Audsley Although they were trained as architects, the brothers used their creative talents to produce a myriad of exotic designs, for stained glass windows, patterns for walls and even musical instruments. Born in Scotland, the brothers worked in Liverpool between 1856 and 1880, originally at different local practices before setting up in partnership toget      her as W&G Audsley in 1860 George, with his wide range of interests, is perhaps better known than his older sibling However, they worked closely together on many projects throughout their partnership in Liverpool, so it is often unclear exactly what each brother was responsible for Of all the buildings they designed in the city they are rightly best known for the opulent interior of the Princes Road Synagogue, described by the brothers themselves as "an eclectic mixture of the best of Eastern and Western schools of art" The Audsleys moved to London in the 1880s, before emigrating to America, where they set up offices together in New York in 1892 Here they continued to extend their portfolio with projects as varied as one of the earliest skyscrapers, the Bowling Green Offices in New York, and the celebrated Wanamaker organ, which can still be seen in the Lord and Taylor department store in Philadelphia. George's great interest in musical organs had been awakened back in Liverpool at the age of eighteen, when he attended a recital in St George's Hall He went on to publish many of the standard works on organ building as well as designing several himself, the largest of which was the Wanamaker. Initially built for the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, 13 freight cars were needed to transport it One of the largest of the organ pipes was photographed with a Shetland pony inside for a publicity stunt Visitors will be able to hear a recording of this organ being played. Today the brothers are mostly remembered for their publications on architecture and decoration, several of which have recently been reprinted. Some of the most beautiful and colourful original editions of their books will be on display at the Walker, including The Ornamental Arts of Japan, and an ornate publication of the Byron poem, The Prisoner of Chillon The gallery walls will be hung with stunning designs, brightly coloured and richly printed with gold, taken from The Practical Decorator and Ornamentist, Polychromatic Decoration as applied to Buildings in the Medieval Styles and The Sermon on the Mount. Other items on show include stained glass windows, an ebonised chair designed for the Prince's Road synagogue, an Egyptian-style piano and a silver brooch decorated with dragons and thistles and set with quartz, citrine and amethyst George designed the brooch, possibly to adorn the Highland style uniform he wore in the Liverpool Scottish Volunteer Rifles. George's interest in the ornate decoration produced on a lathe is reflected in a number of exquisite lathe-turned items made from exotic woods These are displayed with the book that he wrote on the subject with his son Berthold, The Art of Polychromatic and Decorative Turning - A Practical Manual for the Professional and Amateur Turner A study day examining the Audsleys' influence on Liverpool architecture, pattern and decoration will be held on Saturday 12 July, with speakers including Gavin Stamp, senior lecturer at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in the Glasgow School of Art and Joseph Sharples, architectural historian and author of the forthcoming Pevsner Architectural Guide to Liverpool.

To see it just call into the Walker William Brown Street, Liverpool Admission FREE
Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-5pm Information 0151 478 4199  Website:- Study Day 0151 478 4178

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Southport Reporter is a registered Trade Mark.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.