British art gets a make-over at the Walker

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It's a very exciting week this week as the newly refurbished room at the Walker Art Gallery, 'British art 1880-1950', is opening again on Friday. It will showcase pieces from our collections including works by LS Lowry and Lucian Freud, plus many works which have never been on display before! I had a chat with our curator of British art, Laura MacCulloch, who told me more about what you can expect to see there: Tell me about the different types of works which are being brought together in this room? This work brings together paintings, sculptures and works on paper with furniture and ceramics all made between 1880 and 1950.  It's a really exciting period to explore as artists begin to break away from the traditional, Victorian ideas about art and experiment with styles, colours and techniques. It's great to be able to show fine and decoratvie arts together because it shows how artists working in all media experimented. How does this room differ from the more 'standard' rooms of paintings in the Walker? We are aiming to give our visitors more of the context surrounding the art. Between 1880 and 1950 there were huge political and social upheavals brought on by two world wars and increasing industrialisation. We have created an interactive timeline which includes lots of information and images relating to key historical and art historical events. There is more information on the timeline than we could ever fit on a label.

Gallery shot with painting on the wall

Get your hands on a jigsaw version of this painting by Ceri Richards in the new British art 1880-1950 room

  We also wanted visitors to experience the works of art in new ways. We've included tiles you can touch to feel different glazing techniques, paintings that you can touch to feel different ways artists liked to apply paint and two sculptures which have been specially coated so people can touch them without causing any damage to the works. We also created a soundscape to go with Stanhope Forbes' painting 'Off to the Fishing Grounds' so that visitors can take a short trip to Newlyn in Cornwall without having to leave Liverpool! There's also a jigsaw of Ceri Richards radical scuplture/painting 'Mother and child' which allows you to experience its pleasing curves and the feel of the wood with your hands and well as with your eyes. Are there any works that you are excited about bringing out of storage and finally having on display? There are so many that have not been on display for a long time which I am really excited about getting on display. I am particularly happy about having special draws so that we can show works on paper by war artists for the first time.  Usually works on paper can not be shown alongside paintings as they are damaged by too much light, but the draws stop the light falling on them so we will be able to have a lot more on display.  We have so many works on paper relating to World War Two that we are going to rotate them.
You can see some sneak preview photos of the new room before it opens in our Flickr set here.