Liverpool Art Trip – The Walker and The Tate

Last Thursday, the Sixth-Form Art students visited two galleries in Liverpool: The Walker, a gallery that has been displaying its fine art collection for over 130 years, and the Tate Liverpool, situated in the old dock warehouses of Liverpool.

The Walker gallery gave a sense of permanence as we approached through its grand entrance, up the stairs and below the vast Corinthian columns, worn but sturdy, biting their firm jaw as if to hold its precious contents close. The Walker is a building firmly rooted in Liverpool, its place in the city clearly evident in its stature and atmosphere.

The featured exhibition there was that of Walter Sickert (1860-1942), featuring around 100 paintings and 200 drawings from a man who sought to reflect the rapidly changing modern world as it was, often changing his style throughout his life, bringing his art into new and unexpected directions. Sickert’s work often gave focus to detail in shadow, manipulating the viewers gaze, drawing them into the paintings themselves and attempting to reveal society from isolated events. Often capturing the subject in a raw manner, his work provides an interesting timeline for the moods of Britain (and indeed Europe) throughout his life, through eras of peace, and war.

The Permanent collection in the Walker, too, was stunning. The large collection of Victorian works highlighted some of the best art of the time from around Britain, and local to Liverpool too. The fine oil paintings (my favourites being those depicting figures in low candlelight, and grand depictions of classical structures) were accompanied by a sculpture and statue collection which was a fine example of using a permanent, cold, solid, seemingly unmoving material, to depict life, growth, and warmth.

Our next destination was the Tate Liverpool, via a short bus journey, which in itself provoked intrigue: we travelled through the centre of Liverpool, and saw a new city that was starting to emerge, the old brutalist overpass, torn down, its off-ramps a stump of a tree, lacking life, surrounded by new glass monoliths, kinetic structures interrupting the seemingly rigid skyline, the Liver Building a parent to the next surge in development, its bird seeming to govern and observe as the city bobs firmly, in a sea of change. The Tate itself was located in the old dock warehouses, balanced, jutting out into the river Mersey, giving the feeling of the new, the renovated, the not yet permanent, a stark contrast to the Walker.

The exhibitions that were a part of the Tate’s existing collection gave us titles investigating democracy, and what democracy meant to their artists, and also the exhibition “Whose Tradition?”, which saw works by Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brancusi who drew inspiration from artwork across Central and West Africa, as well as the Pacific Islands. There were also artworks that questioned western ideals of art and identity, for instance those by Pacita Abad, who rejected her American art education and looked to her Filipino heritage to develop her style.

The featured exhibitions were those of Lucian Freud and Lucy McKenzie. Lucian Freud was a British painter, widely celebrated for his portraits, and a man who often chose those who were closest to him to be the subjects; his portraits certainly gave a personal record of the time spent with these people and indeed his own life. He had an incredible talent for capturing the mood and emotion of his sitters.

Lucy McKenzie (born 1977), is an artist who uses a diverse set of techniques and themes in her art, her incredibly detailed paintings and large scale work demonstrate themes that have interested her throughout her career such as the iconography of international sport, the representation of women, gender politics, music subcultures, and post war muralism.

Overall, we all really enjoyed the trip, and the opportunity to see, study, and discuss amazing pieces of art, with the help of Miss Tonks and Mrs Rowe – thank you!


Theo 6.1