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The king of Merchant Palaces

16 February 2007 by Sam

Man in front of a map

Joseph Sharples at the Merchant Palaces exhibition opening

This man probably knows more about the historic houses in the area than the people living in them do. Many people will remember Joseph Sharples from his time as a curator at the Walker Art Gallery during the 1990s. Since leaving he has been involved in several architectural research projects, including rewriting the Pevsner guide to Liverpool. While he was working on this I occasionally spotted him standing in the street looking up at buildings, which he always claimed was critical research.

Most recently Joseph has been the guest curator for the Merchant Palaces exhibition, which opens today at the Lady Lever Art Gallery. The exhibition features photographs of local Victorian and Edwardian mansions from the Bedford Lemere Collection at the National Monuments Record, the public archive of English Heritage. At the opening yesterday evening Joseph described how he had to wear thermals and fingerless gloves while examining the negatives in the collection, which are refridgerated in order to preserve them.

His painstaking research has resulted in a fascinating exhibition of incredible photographs, beautifully capturing a lost era of grandeur and opulence.

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