art by docOne of our most ambitious and engaging private galleries, Aigburth Vale’s The Corke Gallery is always worth a detour from town. Earlier this year Gallery owner and curator Nic Corke embarked on his ambitious ’10 Exhibitions in 10 weeks’  project in honour of the 2010 Biennial.

Ahead of this week’s Christmas Show opening (Tuesday, December 14) Abi Grogan caught up with Nic to reflect on how some of his more controversial pieces were received. And to ask the ultimate question – was it all worth it?

Were you pleased with seamlessly your ’10 Exhibitions in 10 weeks’ project evolved?

I’m very pleased, originally the plan was to do two shows over the Biennial, but I settled for 10 – I didn’t want to go for the easy option!

Ten exhibitions must have required a substantial amount of art?

I’ve got a network of artists from all over the world wanting a place to show their work and the ’10 exhibitions in 10 weeks’ project has given them that opportunity, one girl from Spain called Fátima Ballesteros Larrotcha came to the Gallery with some beautiful portraits but I said to her, ‘I’m not using portraits at the moment.’ A week later she brought back three beautiful Cityscapes of Liverpool which I added to my ‘Landscape and Views’ Exhibition that ran in October. There is plenty of talent in Liverpool, the hardest thing is saying no.

It must be difficult to tell people that you don’t like their art, how did you decide which pieces to use and which to avoid?

I tend not to go into anything with prejudice, as long as an artist can prove to me that their work is worth showing I’m happy to give it a place in the Gallery. I’ve got one golden rule when deciding whether or not to take something; it must be engaging. If a piece of art leaves the viewer cold then it’s failed.

As well as International artists you have a fair amount of art in the Corke Gallery that is locally sourced. How would you describe the community feeling amongst Artists currently in Liverpool?

For such an arty city there is a noticeable focus on smaller groups. There are a lot of very talented artists out there that don’t get the coverage they deserve because they are not part of a particular art clique. Although I obviously want the Gallery to become successful in its own right I’m a firm believer that together we’re stronger. I’ve got big plans for collaborations in the future, at the moment I’ve got my sights set on the Eden Project. It would be something a little bit different.

Which artists in particular within your ’10 Exhibitions in 10 weeks’ project stood out?

The Banksy pieces obviously attracted a lot of attention during the ‘Outsiders’ In exhibition, people came from all over the Country to see him. It also gave a platform for local street artists such as Doc to exhibit their work, which has prompted our next street art exhibition in the New Year.

What else has been causing a stir at the Corke Gallery?

We had a cut out of a flying Pope gracing our Gallery facade during his visit to the UK, that got a few tongues wagging. A group of students also objected quite badly to a piece from ‘Outsiders’ In called ‘lizbeth’ which features a classic image of Queen Elizabeth accessorised with a burka, there was something about that piece that they really didn’t like.

Tell us a little about the A Level Student art prize and The Higher Education prize hosted this year.

The competition has recently been extended until March 2011 to enable more students to submit work for this event. I wanted to offer this opportunity to really committed young artists – passionate painters who wake up each morning thinking ‘I need to be painting’. I’m not interested in what I refer to as ‘Sunday painters’, people who might toy with the idea of creating art on an occasional Sunday afternoon.  Students submitted six, high quality pieces of Art to use potentially in a sole exhibition of their own at The Corke in the future. The prize is a chance to give them a leg up and get themselves established – the value of art is determined by the quality of the art, not the artist’s age.

What else shall we look out for during the rest of 2010 and beyond?

Until December 24th I will be showcasing specially selected works from the Biennial including the work of Fatima Ballesteros Larrotcha mentioned earlier, so if you didn’t manage to make it in earlier this year, please pop down and visit us before Christmas. Following the success of the street art in ‘Outsiders’ In I will also be curating another street art exhibition in the New Year. Another thing in progress is a ‘War of the Roses’ collection featuring some of Yorkshire and Lancashire’s most well known artists, other events will be sporadic and spontaneous so please come down when you’re able to!

Corke Gallery Christmas Show, 14-24 December
296 – 298 Aigburth Road, Aigburth Vale, Liverpool,
Tel: 0151 726 0232
www.corke.net

Art image by Doc.