ALIVE: In the face of Death

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Walker Art Gallery to host exhibition by photographer Rankin

The Walker Art Gallery will host an exhibition by world renowned photographer Rankin.

ALIVE: In The Face of Death will run from Friday 17 May - 15 September and is the photographer’s look at death and mortality.

This collaboration between the Walker Art Gallery and Rankin has been developed by BBC North and BBC Two’s The Culture Show as media partner.

Part of the exhibition will feature images of everyday people who know they are running out of time. Through a series of powerful photographs Rankin has documented the stories of very special people.

Rather than focusing on death, ALIVE: In The Face of Death is also about celebrating life and diversity of character. The exhibition will also feature images of people who have pulled through against all the odds. 

Rankin, 46, said: “This is one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever been involved in and looks at life in the face of death. The issue of death is emotive. Part of this exhibition has involved me taking photographs of people with terminal illness which has been quite a challenging process.

“I’ve met some amazing people and I think each portrait brings out the vitality of each subject, their humour and unique qualities.”

National Museums Liverpool Director of Art Galleries Sandra Penketh said: “It is a major coup for the Walker to have an exhibition by one of the world’s most influential photographers. The subject of mortality is challenging and Rankin has tackled it in a very moving way.

“The Walker has a long history of thought-provoking exhibitions. We are very excited to be working with Rankin and the BBC on what will be a deeply emotional exhibition.”  

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to read the inspirational accounts of people in the image. ALIVE: In The Face Of Death will also be the subject of a landmark Culture Show documentary to coincide with the exhibition, capturing both the artistic process and emotion in telling such a story.

Janet Lee, The Culture Show Editor said: “This is a huge undertaking by Rankin and we are thrilled to be making a documentary that will reveal the whole process with exclusive access to Rankin and his subjects. The collaboration between The Walker Art Gallery, The Culture Show and BBC North aims to bring audiences a moving, life-enhancing film and a ground breaking exhibition.”

A key element to Rankin’s work has been to let people take control of how they are portrayed in the images.

This exhibition forms part of the LOOK/13: Liverpool International Photography Festival which launches on Friday 17 May and will see dozens of photographic exhibitions and events taking place across the city. 

This is the second time National Museums Liverpool has worked with Rankin. In 2009 he visited World Museum as part of his Shoot Me, Rankin project which saw him photograph 1,000 people to form a portrait of modern Britain. At World Museum Rankin photographed dozens of Liverpudlians.

More details about the exhibition can be found here:


Synonymous with compelling portraiture, Rankin’s lens is known for his ability to capture, create and unveil icons. Following the establishment of Dazed & Confused magazine with business partner Jefferson Hack in 1992, Rankin took his photography to the wider market, creating landmark editorial and advertising campaigns. His body of work features some of the most celebrated publications, biggest brands and pioneering charities, including Nike, Swatch, Dove, Pantene, Diageo, Women’s Aid, and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. He has shot covers for Elle, German Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Esquire and GQ. His work has always endeavoured to question social norms and ideas of beauty.  Rankin is often seen as a celebrity photographer, however, his campaigns and projects featuring ‘real women’ marked him out as a genuinely passionate portrait photographer, no matter who the subject. He has stood out for his creative fearlessness and his first major worldwide and award-winning campaign – Dove’s ‘Real Women’ – epitomised his approach: to reveal the honesty of the connection and collaborative process between photographer and subject. Personal or commercial, Rankin’s images have become part of contemporary iconography, evidence of his frankness and passion for all aspects of modern culture, and its representation in the photographed image.  Rankin has published over 30 books and is regularly exhibited in galleries around the world.

About National Museums Liverpool:

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. 

We attract more than three million visitors every year. Our venues are the International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Sudley House, UK Border Agency National Museum, Walker Art Gallery and World Museum. 

One of the finest art galleries in Europe the Walker Art Gallery is home to renaissance masterpieces, Tudor portraits and one of the best collections of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art in the country. An outstanding collection of contemporary art includes work by David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Banksy.

LOOK/13: Liverpool International Photography Festival:

Who do you think you are? LOOK/13 asks what happens when we turn the camera on ourselves and others, to create images of identity, subjectivity and the self. The festival's much-anticipated second edition launches on Liverpool's Light Night, 17 May 2013. Taking place in venues across the city, it presents an eclectic mix of exhibitions and events, featuring historical and contemporary work by photographers from Liverpool, the UK and beyond. The festival launches on 17 May 2013 with a long opening weekend 16-19 May 2013. The programme will be announced at the end of February. For more information, please contact Stephanie Knox: website:


Walker Art Gallery William Brown Street, Liverpool  Admission FREE

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