The Narrators

Rooftop artwork heralds new exhibition at Walker

A weather vane created by artist Chris Evans is a beacon for a new exhibition of contemporary and modern works from the Art Council Collection at the Walker Art Gallery.

Exploring the relationship between objects, architectural space and language, 'The Narrators: works from the Art Council Collection', runs from 11 October 2013 to 16 March 2014 under The Arts Council Collection Partnerships supported by Christie’s scheme.

'Home Entertainment', Evans’ fully functioning weather vane, is perched on the Walker’s roof overlooking historic William Brown Street. With the phrase ‘Home Entertainment’ incorporated into the piece it points to Liverpool's surrounding residential and shopping areas, and questions the role of the gallery in modern society.

There are around 21 pieces in the exhibition which respond to the Walker’s historic collection of fine and decorative art. Displayed amongst the permanent collection in various parts of the gallery, an intriguing visual dialogue is produced between artworks created centuries apart.

There is also a sculptural element to the selection and the exhibition explores a wide definition of the medium by featuring photographs and drawings as well as more traditional sculptural materials.  

An international group of artists include Turner Prize nominee (2009) Lucy Skaer, Northern Art Prize nominees (2013) Tatham and O'Sullivan, John Cage, Becky Beasley and Aiko Miyawaki.

Ann Bukantas, Head of Fine Art said: “The Narrators is an exhibition which weaves around the gallery and brings new context to our historic collections. The Art Council Collection’s works are displayed alongside the Walker’s permanent collection, giving visitors a trail to explore the familiar spaces and works with new insight.

“We’re really pleased to be working with the Arts Council Collection on an exhibition which not only encourages a new perspective on existing displays but also exposes fascinating and unexpected parallels between artists.” 

Exhibition highlights:

• 'Suncycle', a rarely exhibited art work by British concrete poet and artist Kenelm Cox, is shown in the sculpture gallery.

• The melancholic and surreal imagery in Becky Beasley’s photographic series, 'Surface Coverings/The Feral Works' features concealed everyday objects inspired by 'The Burrow' (1925), a short story by Franz Kafka. Two 19th century sculptures of Greek mythological figures by Auguste Rodin, one of the first sculptors to use photography during his creative process, are displayed close by. Rodin had close relationships with many writers and poets, such as Rainer Maria Rilke, who wrote extensively about his work, including the Walkers’ Danaid (1901-2). Both artists’ work reveal similar methods of combining images, objects and language to produce meaning.

• The terror on David Garrick’s face as he plays the role of Richard III in Hogarth’s 1745 painting from the Walker’s collection takes on a new meaning when exhibited above Tatham and O'Sullivan’s 'HK Marble (Absolute Black Zimbabwe)'. The thick black letters spell out the stark slogan ‘Heroin Kills’ as Garrick, powerless, looks on.

• 'Leonora (The Tyrant)' by Lucy Skaer is part of a series of works, inspired by a meeting with the Surrealist artist and novelist Leonora Carrington in Mexico. The 19th-century oak table, inlaid with a mother-of-pearl image of clenched hands is on display in the same room as a Victorian ‘cabinet of curiosities’ which includes the Walker’s cast bronze hand of Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt.

• Three exquisite, elaborate medieval manuscripts from the Walker’s collection reveal centuries of study and interpretation, through annotations and drawings in the margins. The composition of a rare artwork by German-Argentine composer Mauricio Kagel called 'Escapade of Strings', echoes the geometrical page proportions and margins of the manuscripts. Work by another composer, the American John Cage, who was also a poet and philosopher is also on display. 'Not wanting to say anything about Marcel', a tribute to his friend Marcel Duchamp, is made up of 8 perspex layers, installed in a random order so that it changes every time it is displayed.

Launching at the same time, local artist-led gallery The Royal Standard will present film, video and audio works selected from the Arts Council Collection. These will be presented alongside a programme of events, talks and an art-writing residency. The Royal Standard exhibition will be on until 17th November (Open Saturday and Sunday or by appointment only). Please check the website for further details:

Notes to editors

About the Arts Council Collection Partnerships supported by Christie’s

The Arts Council Partnerships supported by Christie’s is a partnership with four regional museums. During the four year scheme, which started in 2012, the partner museums – Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Manchester Art Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool – will create a dynamic programme of displays and exhibitions based on loans from the Arts Council Collection combined with their own collections.

Over the course of the scheme, the Arts Council Collection will also provide sustained curatorial and technical support in developing displays and exhibitions of works from the Collection, as well as offering a place on the Acquisitions Committee each year for one curator from a regional museum partner. The support from Christie’s for an initial period of two years will go directly to the museums towards curatorial research, transport, display and education.

Arts Council Collection which is run by Southbank Centre on behalf of Arts Council England, is one of Britain’s foremost national collections of post-war British Art. As a collection 'without walls', it has no permanent gallery; it can be seen on long term loan to museums, galleries, schools, hospitals, colleges and charitable associations and in touring exhibitions and displays at home and abroad.   It is also, importantly, one of the most widely circulated and easily accessible collection of its kind, with nearly 8000 works available for loan.  Established in 1946 to promote and enrich knowledge of contemporary art, the Collection continues to acquire works by artists, many at an early stage of their career, living and working in Britain and to foster the widest possible access to modern and contemporary across the UK. It includes work by Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin, Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore, Bridget Riley and Wolfgang Tillmans. For more information visit


Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War and Contemporary, Impressionist and Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery. Christie’s has a global presence with 53 offices in 32 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in growth markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.

The Royal Standard

The Royal Standard was founded in 2005, and is an artist-led gallery and studio complex currently based in a former print works in north Liverpool. Its programme aims to showcase innovative projects and events from the UK and abroad, hosting exhibitions by recent graduates, emerging artists and established practitioners, as well as other artist-initiatives. The Royal Standard is currently run by a team of four to six directors, with a new team appointed on a two-year rolling basis, enabling the organisation’s ideas and energy to remain fresh and continuing to offer opportunities to emerging artists.

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, Border Force National Museum (Seized! The Border and Customs Uncovered), 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 display of contemporary art includes work by David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Banksy.

Walker Art Gallery William Brown Street, Liverpool     Admission FREE

Open 10am-5pm every day  Information 0151 478 4199