Liverpool artist Frank Green is celebrating his 50 years of painting the city with a major retrospective exhibition and a screening of a new documentary about his work.
An estimated more than 200 paintings, dating from his time as a student at the Liverpool College of Art to the present day, will go on display as part of the exhibition – his biggest to date – at the Academy of Art on Seel Street, which is open now.
Green established himself as an artist by using his talent to document the changing landscape of Liverpool in the 1970s, particularly around Everton as streets and churches were demolished as part of the Shankland Plan, that laid waste to great swathes of the area. And decades later, his campaigning, community spirit shone through again as he used his art to protest against Liverpool Football Club’s plans to take over Stanley Park in 2008.
Operating from his shop on Oakfield Road in Anfield, Green’s traditional paintings of Liverpool’s buildings, from the Albert Dock and long-gone churches to LFC’s Kop and the city’s old hospitals are still as popular as ever.
But he has always remained fascinated by the terraced streets and communities of Liverpool.
Of 1970s Everton, he said: “It was a blanket demolition, and everybody went along with it expecting something wonderful to rise out of the ashes, but it didn’t. We found huge areas being left, and that was why people were so disappointed. It was like that second part of the plan just didn’t exist. The subject was so fantastic and everything was worthy of painting.”
Especially for the exhibition, Green is restoring and completing a number of unfinished works from that time – using notes and work from old sketch books as a guide, as no photographs remain – as well as including pieces never before shown in public.
He said: “I’d never abandoned them, but this has given me the opportunity to really assess these pieces. In the first place, I’d actually chosen to sit there and paint them, and the reason they didn’t get finished is I got dragged away to another subject.”
Green is hoping the exhibition will inspire a new generation of city artists as well as appeal to those who remember his work through the decades.
“Some people just know me as the artist who does literal paintings of churches, but I do think today’s students will get something out of this. Everybody’s out with digital cameras now, nobody seems to be out there with sketchbooks.”
Frank Green: 50 Years of Painting Liverpool
Liverpool Academy of Art
Image is Breckfield Road North – Robson Street by Frank Green