We’ve enjoyed a roll call of excellent exhibitions up William Brown Street of late. So we’re hoping their Biennial strand keeps the standard high. We caught up with them to discover what’s in store over the next few months.
The John Moores Painting Prize is an eclectic display of themes, techniques and approaches to paint. Selected from more than 3,000 entries, the exhibition of 62 paintings asserts painting’s role within contemporary art.
The humble pigeon is the subject of Patrick Murphy’s brilliant Belonging. The installation sees more than 200 brightly coloured life-sized model pigeons ‘roosting’ around the exterior of the gallery. Embracing the theme of the Biennial, the birds can be seen to represent any group that struggles to find a natural home or sense of belonging.
The Arts Council Collection presents Enrico David’s Madreperlage (2003), a major work by the Turner-nominated artist (2009). The installation sets a sinister scene with an over-sized, embroidered rag doll leaning against a sideboard. This is David’s first solo presentation in England outside London, and also includes more recent works on paper.
Why Should We Come?
The John Moores Painting Prize represents the best of contemporary painting in the UK. Named after the founder of Littlewoods, who established the prize in 1957, the Prize continues to bring “the best and most vital work being done today throughout the country” (exhibition catalogue, 1957).
With a first prize of £25,000, the John Moores is the UK’s most prestigious painting prize. Previous winners have included Sir Peter Blake (now patron of the prize), David Hockney, Mary Martin and Peter Doig.
What Shouldn’t We Miss?
The beautiful and beguiling first prize winning painting, Stevie Smith and the Willow by Sarah Pickstone (SS: We’ll be posting an interview with Sarah soon, watch this space).
See if you agree with our judges (Alan Yentob, Fiona Banner, Angela de la Cruz, George Shaw and Iwona Blazwick) on their selection and if you don’t place a vote for the Visitors’ Choice award. The winner of the Visitors’ Choice will be announced 23 November.
Also grab yourself a Belonging-inspired pigeon cookie in the café!
Amazing Art Fact
Biggs & Collings are one of the four additional John Moores prize winners. Husband and wife they work collaboratively; Emma Biggs, chooses the colours and Mattew Collings (critic, broadcaster and previous John Moores judge) applies it.
Any Special Dates?
Free talks, tours and events throughout the exhibition. More info here.
But definitely make the following a date for your diary:
The John Moores Painting Prize summit on 2, 3 and 4 November (10am – 5pm). Join artists and curators for a weekend of events exploring the exhibition and the future of painting, including an ‘in conversation’ event the winner, Sarah Pickstone and Director of Art Galleries, Sandra Penketh.
Your Biennial in Seven Words
Plucky pigeons, powerful paintings and peculiar puppets.
Walker Art Gallery
William Brown Street
John Moores Prize til 6 January
Enrico David til 9 December
Belonging, date to be finalised