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Art In Revolution: The Walker Art Gallery

Rakhi Sinha journeys back 100 years through this fascinating exhibition

Written by . Published on August 30th 2011.

Art In Revolution: The Walker Art Gallery

TWO dramatic events in the cultural, political and social history of Liverpool took place in 1911 and they are explored through this exhibition.

One, which incensed the city’s bourgeoisie, was a pioneering art exhibition featuring works by van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin and Signac.

It’s a fascinating exhibition which evokes the sense of radicalism felt in the city at that time. It’s also rather poignant given the current climate and recent riots.

It may not sound like much, but it was ground-breaking as it was the first time mainland European Post-Impressionists had been shown in the UK alongside their British counterparts.

But it wasn’t only radical art that came to the city that year. Liverpool was also rocked by social unrest and strikes.

The summer of 1911 witnessed some of the most violent events in Liverpool’s political history with dock and transport strikes. Huge mass rallies were broken up by police and soldiers, leading to many deaths on the streets of Liverpool.

Art In RevolutionArt In Revolution

One hundred years on, The Walker Art Gallery revisits this time and explores the relationship between the two events.

Using social change as the thread that binds the two, the exhibition attempts to revisit the dramatic events of 1911.

Over two gallery spaces, the same artists who were displayed in the original exhibition, which took place at the Bluecoat, can be seen here.

Highlights include Sister of Charity by Paul Gaugin and Purple Beech Trees near Melun by Henri Matisse. It also features two drawings and a watercolour by Vincent van Gogh.

To touch on the strikes, in the centre of the main space are three walls covered with newspaper clippings and quotes.

There are also audio clips and a documentary called, Near to Revolution, which explores the significance of the 1911 transport strikes and subsequent riots.

It’s a fascinating exhibition which evokes the sense of radicalism felt in the city at that time. It’s also rather poignant given the current climate and recent riots.

A tip; whilst at The Walker, don’t miss the neighbouring exhibition, Like You’ve Never Been Away. It’s a series of black and white photographs taken by Paul Trevor, who came to Liverpool in 1975 to document deprivation in the city. It’s a wonderful collection which shows people laughing in the face of adversity, and will certainly put a smile on your face.

Both exhibitions run until September 25.

The Walker Art Gallery

William Brown Street, Liverpool

L2 8EL

0151 652 4177

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