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City treasury

Mark McNulty's latest exhibition is all about music, but there's much more to the Liverpool photographer than that...

Published on May 31st 2007.

City treasury

Some people have an eye for it. It is hard to define, easy to miss and, to be true to itself, needs no fanfare.

We are talking about that style thing, and it is hard to believe that for two decades now, Mark McNulty has been quietly documenting the version of it that is innately stamped through Liverpool's DNA.

With an archive that spans all manner of commercial, landscape, portrait, fashion and music imagery (he even did a book about Southport's miniature golf courses once), McNulty is best friends with his most endearing subject – Liverpool. He has stuck around here long enough to know it like a pair of old trainers which, mysteriously, always look fresh and young.

You don't have to go far to see what his work is all about, either. It is is displayed on walls all around the place for anyone to look at: In Probe Records and soon to be at Korova.

Right now, McNulty has just overhauled his long running show at the Metropolitan bar in Berry Street, calling it Remix. It features new faces alongside new images of people that appeared in his original exhibition, which opened two years ago there, but this time the show is 100% music, a remix.

An androgynous image of singer Candie Payne, who performed on the launch night of the show, takes pride of place by the sunny window. It is some 4ft high showing her in Mona Lisa half-smile.

On darker pillars, members of bands like the Kooks and The View, need no illumination other than McNulty's lens which shows them dazzling like stars, and not boys with guitars.

Portraits of Eva Petersen, of Little Flames, The Pipettes and Pop Levi are as vibrant and artful as the best photographic work you'll see anywhere.

2007 is actually the 20th year that McNulty has been documenting the music scene in the city. His work began with covering events such as the Earthbeat festivals, in Sefton Park, and clubs such as G-Love, The Underground and Quadrant Park.

He then went on to photograph many Liverpool artists such as The Farm, Space, Echo & The Bunnymen and Cast as well as working for international magazines photographing the likes of Bjork, House of Pain, Travis, Paul Weller and Portishead. His work has featured on various album covers and in magazines as diverse as Mixmag, The Face, I-D, Italian Vogue and The Observer.

As well as this exhibition of brand new photographs, McNulty is also starting to open up the first part of his archive which will include photographs of artists such as The Stairs, The La's and The Real People. These are on show at Probe (Slater Street) and will also feature in Mark's second book, Capital Of Pop Culture a 20-year musical photographic diary that starts at Earthbeat in1987 and will end at the forthcoming Knowsley Hall Music Festival in two weeks time.

Having snapped the city's personality for posterity thousands of times, and with growing maturity, it would be not be an exaggeration to say that McNulty is becoming the E Chambre Hardman of his generation.

Capture the moment.

*Remix, Metropolitan Bar, Berry Street, noon till late, seven days until autumn.

Angie Sammons

Pictures copyright Mark McNulty

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