Kirkby Gallery (free admittance) is one of the best contemporary art galleries in Merseyside and the North West of England. The gallery presents a broad and ambitious programme of exhibitions, which draws upon collections from the Arts Council Collection, Hayward Touring, National Trust and multiple regional partner and galleries. Knowsley’s Annual Open Exhibitions, schools, and community arts projects are additionally core to much of what the gallery offers also, along with a varied offer of art courses. Knowsley Council also works in partnership with other arts agencies to deliver exhibitions such as Liverpool Biennial and pan-Merseyside projects, as part of the city region.
Current and forthcoming exhibitions
The Likeness of Things: Baum, Cockrill, Henri, Walsh
Tuesday 10 May – Saturday 16 July
In 1970, the Neptune Theatre Gallery in Liverpool held an exhibition titled Realist Painting. In 1974, the Sunderland Art Centre presented Five Realist Painters. Two years later, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery showed Real Life. These exhibitions all included works by the four artists gathered here: John Baum, Maurice Cockrill, Adrian Henri and Sam Walsh.
All four started teaching at Liverpool College of Art in the 1960s, though they had come to the city from different places. They were friends, and part of the same art scene.
Although they had developed different approaches and styles in the 1960s, through the 1970s Baum, Cockrill, Henri and Walsh were often exhibited together under the banner of “realism” in the UK and abroad. During that decade, they concentrated on what John Baum called “the likeness of things”, depicting people, objects and places in a clear crisp manner sometimes described as Photo-realist, in reference to the movement then evolving in the US. This exhibition revisits that work of the 1970s when, with apparent emotional detachment, Baum, Cockrill, Henri and Walsh reappropriated traditional genres like portrait, landscape or still-life painting, and gave them a resolutely contemporary twist.
Tale of the Unexpected
Monday 1 August – Saturday 17 September
Dovetailing with the storytelling theme for Knowsley’s Borough of Culture, this exhibition emerges out of a borough-wide schools project, inspiring children to create a ‘story in a page’ influenced by where they live, whether that be historical points of interest, local urban myths and/or contemporary references.
The exhibition will see the gallery walls and floors transformed into a larger-than-life open book, with giant pages depicting the children’s work commanding the space, offering visitors over the summer holidays the chance to walk their way through the imagination of Knowsley’s schoolchildren.
The Masterpiece Tour / Making an Impression
Monday 10 October – Saturday 17 December
This exhibition is Kirkby Gallery’s most ambitious to date, with significant works on loan to the gallery from The National Gallery and The Ashmolean Museum. As part of Making an Impression, works of internationally recognised artists including Mary Cassatt, Paul Cézanne, Edouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Lucien Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir are explored via their use of print as a medium, blurring the boundaries between prints and drawings.
Standing proud within Kirkby Gallery, is Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s painting Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study, the final of three venues to do so as part of The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2020 sponsored by Christie’s. Shown alongside Making an Impression: Prints by Manet, Pissarro and their Contemporaries, Degas’s monumental work will take centre stage with its intriguing domestic scene offering visitors the opportunity to explore ideas around portraiture and identity.
Kirkby Gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm. On Saturdays it is open from 10am to 1pm.
You will find it on the first floor of The Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, Knowsley, L32 8XY.