Review: Looking North exhibit

  • NQ's Emily Wade reviews Liverpool's new art exhibit, Looking North

Featuring a mixture of paintings, sculptures and videos from artists across the North West of England, on paper Looking North seems to be the perfect miss match of artwork.

Located in the maze that is the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Looking North exhibition is hidden in tiny room in a far back corner of the building, behind all the traditional art exhibitions.

A contrast to the majority of the work in the gallery, this exhibition showcases ‘some of the best contemporary art by artists from all over the north west’. The art found here is modern and vibrant although individually the pieces don’t look like they would compliment each other. When looking at this miss-matched exhibition it’s clear the only thing the artists have in common is their birth place.

The most prominent piece in the room is ‘Friendly Name for a Fool’, a neon sign more likely to be seen in an old school diner than an art exhibition. Echoing the work of Joseph Kosuth, Joe Fletcher Orr, the artist from Birkenhead, says this piece, like his others, was inspired by his family, with the scouse term his dad uses to tease Fletcher, ‘soft lad’, written in neon.

Next to it is a sculpture of a man’s face looking upwards, sat on top of a wooden shipping box, an unusual combination creating Fletcher’s ‘dad’ piece. These pieces, although out of place in this exhibition, compliment the rest of his work.

Other contributors include Jesse Wine and Jason Tompson both of whom have their own contrasting contemporary styles which would probably be more suited to an individual exhibition rather than this unusual combination. However, Thompson’s work is a definite stand out with his colourful patterns created by trial and error which he likens to a fire burning. Whether this is a good attribute or not, it gets his work noticed in such an open room.

Mary Griffiths’ creates art working with graphite and scratch marks to create depth and almost mirror like features to her work. The two pieces included in this exhibition, Causeway and Microlight, are different types of wood inscribed with graphite which in all honesty just looks like someone has painted pieces of wooden flooring black. Much of her other work would have better suited this exhibition, for example her sculptures which are created in a similar way to these wooden slates, but are much more striking, or even work similar to her ‘Constellation’ piece, a scratched drawing on a full wall – however the curator knows best, right?

Even though there are many disappointing elements to the exhibition it is definitely worth visiting for Joe Fletcher Orr’s work alone.

Ultimately art is down to individual expression and every artist included in this exhibition has worked tirelessly to create such unique and memorable art work.