“Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes, there beneath the blue suburban skies” sang The Beatles in 1967. These immortal words have for decades prompted tourists from around the world to track down the famous street sign, huddle round it for a photo, then look up and down the Lane in bemusement as if to say “is that it?”
That such an obvious cash cow could go unmilked for so long is almost hardly credible, particularly as Liverpool has always been a city to revel in its musical heritage. Of course, with Penny Lane being rather inconveniently situated in a largely residential area, any attempt to capitalize on the Beatles’ celebrity there would always be a tough nut to crack.
Tough, but not impossible. Two recently opened outlets, Penny Lane Gallery and Penny Lane Art and Framing, seem to have got the balance right.
The gallery opened on 25th November with an exhibition of the artwork of Echo and the Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant. Running till the end of February, it will display Sergeant’s abstract works as well as a special collection called Postcards From Cairo which were created around old photos of his father taken during the Second World War.
Will explains the significance of this: “I was born in 1958, so when I was growing up, people were still talking about the war. It had only finished 13 years ago, so it was still on people’s minds.”
Penny Lane Art and Framing, just two doors down, opened seven months ago and owner Graham Baker is optimistic about what is in effect a joint venture. He says:
“Most of the business I get is from framing, which the Gallery doesn’t do, so we’re not in direct competition.”
As well as displaying paintings by local artists, most of which he laboriously framed with his wife Jan, he also has in his possession a collection of Beatles photographs which were found gathering dust in an attic and which have only very recently been released.
With Penny Lane Gallery now open, owner Christine Colvin says her vision is to use Liverpool’s musical history as a springboard to boost interest in the art scene.
“We’re hoping that gallery will start attracting musicians with an artistic side!”
She has already commissioned the next installation for March 2012 – the ‘robot art’ of Horace Panter, bassist with ska revival legends The Specials.
Penny Lane Gallery