Beside the seaside in Big Art

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Our cheeky herring gull and common cockles Image by Robert Flynn If this chilly weather has you dreaming of the summertime then the new display in Big Art for Little Artists at the Walker Art Gallery might warm you up! Inspired by local artist George Wallace Jardine’s painting 'Full Fathom Five' that was already on display, we gathered an inspiring mix of seaside objects from National Museums Liverpool’s collections that you might find on our local sea shores – from shells to seaweed and everything in between. There’s a cheeky herring gull ('Larus argentatus') and colourful puffin ('Fratercula arctica') – specimens loaned from the zoology department at the World Museum. Zoology curator Tony Parker says that you might be able to spy some puffins along the southern Welsh coast and on Anglesey if you’re lucky and there’s actually herring gulls currently nesting on the roof of the museum! If you look closely at the bottom of the display you’ll see lots of seashells nestled in the sand. They were all collected on local shores by our curator of conchology, Ian Wallace. If you look by the gull’s feet you can see some common cockles, which the gulls like to drop from up high to break open and eat. There’s lots of other shells like scallops, mussels, whelks, winkles, and the aptly named angel wings.Beside the seaside with shells and a puffin Tucked among the shells you’ll also see some fabulous algae specimens from our botany department’s fantastic herbarium. It was hard to choose which ones but curator of botany Wendy Atkinson and head of botany Geraldine Reid helped us find some lovely specimens that also included hand painted illustrations of the plants, such as the beautifully named mermaids tresses ('Chorda filum') and knotted wrack ('Ascophyllum nodosum'), which you might find washed up along the shores of the Mersey as it grows around Hilbre and is carried in by the strong tides. To make any trip to the seaside complete you need a swimming costume, and our curator of costume and textiles, Pauline Rushton, had just the thing! You won’t be able to miss 1970s swimming costume and swim cap Image by Robert Flynn the colourful swirling patterns on the 1970s women’s swimming costume and the vibrant swimming cap. It belonged to curator of metal and glass work Alyson Pollard’s Mum and she wore it on seaside holidays in Wales! To have a closer look at our display and see what else you can find, pop into Big Art for Little Artists at the Walker Art Gallery, open daily from 10am-5pm and check out our arty events for families at the Walker Art Gallery here.