Interacting with Art

11 April 2011 by volunteer

Volunteer visiting the Walker Art Gallery

Emma in the new British Art 1880-1950 gallery, Walker Art Gallery.

Emma, one of our brilliant volunteers is currently working towards gaining her Bronze Arts Award. As part of her project, Emma visited the newly opened British Art 1880-1950 gallery at our very own Walker Art Gallery. Here is Emma’s review…

“I recently visited the newly refurbished Room Eleven gallery space at the Walker Art Gallery. It is home to the British Art 1880-1950 collection which includes pieces by artists such as L S Lowry, Lucian Freud and Roger Fry, to name but a few. The collection brings together a range of different types of art, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics and furniture. The room is split into sections, with the art works in each section linked by one of four themes; Finding a Modern Style, War Artists, Close to Nature, and Materials, Colours and Processes. I found the collection to be highly accessible – there is something for almost everyone, whether it be drawing one of the jugs on display, examining the textures achieved by different glazes on ceramics, or the reading about the individual pieces in the collection.

This gallery space differs from other art exhibitions and galleries that I have visited previously in that it contains several interactive sections, which I think aid understanding of the artworks. A touch-screen computer provides an interactive timeline of various works of art along with major historical events. This allows you to put the works into the context in which they were created, which I found particularly interesting.

The space also contains sculptures and which have been specially treated so that you can touch them. For example, visitors are able to examine the texture of Sir Jacob Epstein’s ‘Israfel’, which is not smooth like a traditional sculpture. This links into the theme of ‘Materials, Colours and Processes’, which explains that artists began to experiment more in these areas, and wanted to encapsulate thoughts and feelings as opposed to creating an accurate representation of what they saw.

I liked that the pieces in the collection are put into a wider historical perspective. For example, in the ‘Close to Nature’ theme, it is explained how advances in technology encouraged artists to move outdoors, away from their traditional studios, and explore the countryside. As urbanisation drew an increasingly large section of the population into the growing towns and cities, artists began to portray life in the country as something to be idealised, often omitting any signs of poverty from their works.

I found the British Art 1880-1950 collection to be insightful and innovative, and I feel that I learned a great deal. I enjoyed the interactive elements which aided my understanding of the pieces, and allowed me to experience them in inventive ways. I feel that the information which accompanies the collection helps to ensure that the works are accessible to anyone and everyone who is interested, and I would definitely recommend visiting.”

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at National Museums Liverpool, please contact the Volunteer Team.

  1. James Kean says:

    The collection appears detailed; not only in the various styles and materials on displayed, but also in finding a historical context which moves each section to the next. I look forward to visiting as it is rare to find a exhibit that doesn’t merely display the pieces. It is extremely promising to know a gallery has decided to offer an insight into individual creativity, and the processes, history and movements which have affected the work.

  2. Alex Harking says:

    An interesting blog that highlights to me how little we do actually interact when we go to conventional exhibitions and as a result engage little with the material. Would much prefer them to be innovative like this one! V. good!

  3. Rachel Gilbertson says:

    Very good review Emma, it was certainly a good exhibition.

  4. L Butland says:

    A well written blog that spoils the reader with exhibition highlights and tempts them to go see more for themselves. I wasn’t aware that the Walker had integrated any interactive displays into their new exhibitions, really interested to go in and give them a go as the exhibition title wouldn’t usually strongly appeal to me, but highlighting the variety in the exhibits and the interact elements reveals that there’s something a bit different here.
    Touching the exhibits is also a tempting offer, and overall the personal opinions offered in the blog have tempted me to go and see if I feel the same/disagree!

  5. Hussain Jaffery says:

    I will definitely be visiting this exhibition. Very few exhibits promote tactile experience of the sculpture and it’s progressive of a gallery to encourage this. Also, I have yet to visit a sculpture gallery where touch screens were employed alongside the sculplted media – seems much more engaging. Kudos to the reviewer for providing an educated and critical analysis.

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