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John Moores artist explains how Liverpool nightlife gave work new direction

6 November 2014 by Laura

iPad sketch

Susie Hamilton’s iPad sketch of Liverpool nightlife

In a special guest blog John Moores artist Susie Hamilton shares with us a new direction her work has taken since experiencing Liverpool nightlife for the first time!

“My John Moores painting ‘Freezer’  is a grim picture of a solitary woman in a supermarket, but coming to the private view at the Walker Art Gallery in July started me on a new phase of more ebullient work thanks to seeing something of Liverpool nightlife. 

We were eating in Bold Street and I saw a gang of hens in ‘Where’s Wally?’ outfits. Something clicked, I wanted to see more and went down to Concert Square.

painting

‘Freezer’ by John Moores 2014 artist Susie Hamilton

Subsequently I came to Liverpool just to draw hens and clubbers, hundreds of them in fact. Saturday night spent in a hotel in the club zone was so noisy that I couldn’t have slept even if I had wanted to. I went out with my iPad at 1am and spent a couple of hours going up and down Wood Street recording the amazing carnival with its burlesque hats, bunny ears, lots more ‘Where’s Wally?’ and endless supermodel glam.

No one seemed to care that I was drawing or taking pictures. They even seemed to like the fact that I enjoyed the spectacle. The bursts of light appealed to me as they did when I painted the pink neon of petrol stations and casinos back in 2000. Then I liked the gorgeous colours of clothes, the energy, the purpose and, even though there may be a dark side to the frenzy, a sense of joy.

iPad sketch

Where’s Wally? iPad sketch by Susie Hamilton

I often wanted to paint joy (as well as its opposite) but couldn’t get there with the human figure. My figures usually emerged as distressed or burdened, unless I painted them on a galloping horse. I could only do joy by painting swift or flying creatures (birds, monkeys, riders), while my earth-bound human was depicted as plodding along, its imprisonment in time and space often emphasised by a shadow cast by strong light.

However, with my growing collection of iPad drawings from Wood Street, I’m embarking on big, colourful paintings of the energetic ravers. It’s the fourth in my series of ‘Women Paintings’ and contrasts with all of them. I did fat, outcast ‘Plumpers’, single pensioner shoppers, both in London and The Languedoc, and reflective Muslims in baking Moroccan wilderness. But my troops of girls are wild (rather than being victims of wilderness) and united rather than solitary and I hope will convey something of the iridescence that I found in Liverpool.”

Find out more

Susie is represented by Paul Stoper gallery.

The John Moores Painting Prize continues at the Walker Art Gallery until 30 November.

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