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A little history of LGBT+ love

14 February 2018 by Scott Smith

Saint Valentine’s Day, our National day of love is celebrated by couples around the world. It just so happens that it falls under February, the month that we celebrate LGBT History Month – a month-long annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. So, we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight some LGBT+ relationships from history that we think you should know about.

The artworks and objects discussed here are part of National Museums Liverpool’s collections and all relate in some way to intimate relationships between members of the same sex, both real and fictional, which go beyond platonic friendship in some way. All of these partnerships offer, in their own way, an alternative to the type of heterosexual relationship that continues to be socially dominant. Read more…

The art of love

13 February 2018 by Ann Bukantas

Love threads its way though many of the artworks in the Walker Art Gallery’s collection, and across the years, artists have explored the themes of romance, passion and heartbreak in paintings. Let’s go find a little love this Valentine’s Day, and see how different artists have tackled the subject across the centuries.

Dante’s Dream

Dante's Dream by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1871

Read more…

‘Troublesome ladies’ and #Vote100

6 February 2018 by Charlotte

Today marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918. This law allowed some women to vote for the first time, but it only applied to women over the age of 30 who had property rights or a university education. The Act also enabled all men over the age of 21 to vote for the first time too.

The campaign for women’s suffrage, or the right to vote, began to gain momentum in the mid 19th century. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded in 1903 by former members of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) frustrated by the campaign’s slow progress. Led by Christine Pankhurst, the WSPU sought to attract attention to their cause in new ways. Their motto was ‘Deeds, not words’ and their actions became increasingly disruptive and violent in the years that followed. They committed acts of arson, damaged public buildings and even planted bombs, while others targeted famous works of art in public galleries and museums.  Read more…

Hidden treasures on display for the first time at the Walker

5 February 2018 by Nicola Scott

Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins has just opened at the Walker Art Gallery, and thanks to this unique collaboration between National Museums Liverpool and The Singh Twins, you can see some star objects that have never been on display before!

It is not new for artists to take inspiration from museum collections, but what is different is the extent of The Singh Twins’ research. They have viewed hundreds of objects, which have contributed to many ideas for their artworks.

We began in 2014 when I planned a visit to our stores with the artists. The exhibition tells stories from the history of Indian textiles, so I was looking for items made in India or inspired by Indian design. I was thrilled to discover exquisite hand-embroidered pieces and stunning, woven shawls – I realised these had never before been seen by the public. The Singh Twins went on to work with colleagues in other departments too. The objects they discovered have informed some of the main themes for their artworks, and you can see many referenced within the actual artworks themselves! I was delighted to put some of these on display for the first time in Slaves of Fashion.

A selection of our textiles, jewellery and books on display for the first time

Shawl or ‘Phulkari’, India 19th century


Shawl or ‘Phulkari’, India 19th century

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The grid is the thing

5 February 2018 by Ann Bukantas

Noel Forster’s A Painting in Six Stages with a Silk Triangle (detail)

What unites the paintings in our new display of past John Moores Painting Prize winners since 1957 is of course the fact that they have all won the UK’s most prestigious painting prize, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. But across this diverse group of canvases from different decades, other common links start to emerge, and this week we have mostly been spotting the variety of grids in the room!

Read more…

17 March 2018: One-day Conference: Slaves of Fashion: Archives, Art and Ethics

2 February 2018 by Ann

To accompany The Singh Twins’ major new exhibition Slaves of Fashion: New Works by The Singh Twins at the Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool and the University of Liverpool School of Histories, Languages and Cultures are hosting a one-day conference, open to the public to explore the issues raised by The Twins’ new artworks.

Read more…

Kim Cattrall at the Walker Art Gallery

16 January 2018 by Felicity

Image of Kim Cattrall following a recent in-conversation event hosted by the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres

Kim Cattrall at a recent in-conversation event hosted by the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres

We’re incredibly excited to be able to reveal that a very special painting will soon be joining our collection at the Walker Art Gallery!

The winner of this year’s Sky Portrait Artist of the Year will receive a £10,000 commission to paint the actress Kim Cattrall, with the painting set to hang here at the gallery.

The series, presented by Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner, airs on Sky Arts tonight. We can’t wait to see which talented artists have been selected to compete for the commission.

We’re particularly thrilled that the painting will be of Kim, who was born in Liverpool’s Mossley Hill. She moved to Canada at three months of age, before returning to stay with family at the age of 11. She moved back to Canada to finish high school when she was 16.

Kim has fond memories of visiting our museums and galleries as a child, and also of being inspired by watching theatre here in the city. She famously went on to play the role of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at Liverpool’s Playhouse theatre back in 2010. Kim is perhaps best known for playing the role of Samantha Jones in Sex and the City.

More than 1,000 artists from across the UK applied for the show this year. From small, delicate studies to large-scale, full-body canvases in oil, watercolour, pastels, charcoal, pencil and even collage – the series will see a whole host of different takes on the classic artistic challenge of portraiture.

The three chosen finalists will face the challenge of commissions to paint the eminent designer Kenneth Grange, iconic fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and bestselling author, international superstar and Spice Girl Geri Horner, with portraits to hang at the Design Museum, the Fashion and Textile Museum and the British Music Experience. The overall winner will receive the commission to paint Kim’s portrait.

We’ll be watching the series with great excitement and can’t wait to share more news about the portrait over the coming months!

A painting through time – Burd Helen

11 January 2018 by Ann Bukantas

‘Burd Helen’ by William Lindsay Windus

Since our painting ‘Burd Helen’, painted in 1856 by William Lindsay Windus, featured in the recent BBC2 programme ‘A House Through Time’, we’ve been flooded with questions. Presented by David Olusoga, the programme revealed that the male character in the painting was a portrait of a man called Wilfred Steele.

Was this a new discovery? Did we already know who the sitter was? What was the source that David Olusoga mentioned?
Read more…

Behind the scenes of the John Moores Painting Prize 2018

11 January 2018 by Alex Patterson

Alex Patterson at her desk working

Alex Patterson, Assistant Curator of Fine Art

I’m thrilled to be working on the John Moores Painting Prize while it celebrates its 60th Anniversary! I’m Assistant Curator of Fine Art for National Museums Liverpool and this year I have joined the Prize’s Project Manager, Katherine Lloyd, to oversee various stages of the competition.

Read more…

John Moores Painting Prize juries

29 December 2017 by Ann Bukantas

John Moores 2014 jury look at the eventual first Prizewinner, Rose Wylie’s entry during stage two judging

We often get asked about the juries for the John Moores Painting Prize. How are they selected and what is their role?

Read more…



About our blog

Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.