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British art 1880-1950

8 April 2011 by Alison

Our guest blogger Bethan Mackenzie visited the Walker Art Gallery recently to take a look at the newly opened permanent gallery of British art 1880-1950.


Are you a total art beginner and don’t know where to start? Do you have an interest in the subject and want to know more? Well the British Art 1880-1950 permanent exhibition is the place to be. Opened March 25th the new interactive gallery has something for everyone. I am that beginner, and I loved it.

The gallery tells a story how local artist’s adapted their styles in response to the time. The dramatic and eventful period of history which shaped a significant group of British artists are displayed and explained in the Walker Art Gallery. The exhibition features many paintings from Liverpool born artists including, Albert Richards (born 1919) and George Herbert Tyson Smith (born 1883).

Walking around the gallery every painting or sculpture has a brief description on the artist and a more specific explanation of the style. The exhibition covers a whole range of styles, from Art Deco to Cubism, Fauvism to Abstract. There are a number of objects to touch to increase understanding of the display, including canvas which illustrates the difference between thick and thin paint textures.

The gallery also has a large touch screen which enlightens the user of the specific historical events in relation to the artwork produced. It is enjoyably displayed and incredibly easy to use.

My favourite piece in the exhibition was Nightfall, Luxor, painted in 1910 by Sir David Young Cameron.  Technology greatly improved transport in the late 19th century allowing artists like Cameron to visit faraway countries. He spent the winter of 1908 in Egypt. The painting shows the dark silhouette of the ancient Egyptian temples at Luxor. The symmetrical design makes a dramatic landscape. A small figure is painting in the centre, symbolising the vastness of the night sky. Magical.

Painting of a young man and woman in the countryside

‘Amity’ by Fleetwood-Walker one of the paintings on display in the new gallery © The Estate of the late Peggy Fleetwood-Walker (detail)

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