It’s always nice to welcome a former Liverpool artist back to the city. Unless you’re Ringo, obviously, in which case we’ll be busy washing our hair. This season the Walker are hosting one of the most exciting artists the city’s ever produced – John Kirby – in his first major retrospective.

Kirby works between painting and sculpture, and his work touches on gender, race and sexuality. There are some interesting elements that seem to crop up in his work: expressionless and beautifully formed faces, solitary figures, religion, and a melancholy blankness that brings to mind someone like Edward Hopper or even David Hockney (who actually owns some of Kirby’s work, fact fans).

Kirby’s had an interesting life – born in Tuebrook in the 40s, he left school at 16 and worked with Mother Theresa at a Calcutta children’s home. As you do. He came to art relatively late – only studying it in the 80s – but since then he’s amassed a stunning body of work, of which over 50 paintings and 10 sculptures will feature in the exhibition. It may not be the cheeriest way to fight away those winter blues – much of Kirby’s work feels bleak and lonely – but it’s the most exciting way we can think of to kick off the city’s art schedule in 2012.

John Kirby: The Living and the Dead
13th January – 15th April
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/johnkirby

– Image White Wedding (2006) © John Kirby, courtesy of Flowers, London

Win! Private view tickets

We’ve got 5 pairs of tickets to the rather exclusive private view of this exhibition to give away. Happening on Thursday 12th January from 6pm – 8pm at the Walker Gallery, you’ll get a chance to view the entire show before it opens to the public.

To enter, send an email with the subject ‘John Kirby’ and your name to info@sevenstreets.com, ‘Like’ our Facebook post or retweet our tweet. We’ll pick winners on Tuesday 10th January will be in touch that day.