Selecting the Best of Merseyside

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2 thoughtful women sat looking at a line of paintings leant against a wall

The selection process for 'The Best of Merseyside' involved a lot of intense discussions and difficult decisions

We've reached the last few days of the rather fabulous Metropolis exhibition at the National Conservation Centre, so if you haven't seen it yet then do try to get over there this week.

Preparations for the next exhibition, 'Best of Merseyside', which opens at the National Conservation Centre on 22 August, have been taking place all year and seem to have involved a mammoth operation. Sarah Craven from Knowsley Arts Service was on the selection panel, and has kindly explained the process below. You can also see some behind-the-scenes photos in our Best of Merseyside selection process Flickr slideshow.

"Best of Merseyside is a selection of the best from the open exhibitions run by the Merseyside boroughs: Halton, Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral. In putting together this exhibition we have drawn on entries to existing exhibitions and selected from them. 10 artists have been chosen from each of the 5 exhibitions and together they give 50 artists; 50 works that reflect the variety, the breadth of work that is being produced in the area. The majority of these are not professional artists, who often do not enter the local open exhibitions, but semi-professional or talented amateur artists who are glad of the platform these open shows offer.

The selection process is now over. The selectors for this exhibition were Jo Dry and myself from Knowsley Arts Service, Louise Hesketh from The Brindley, Runcorn, Jess Bowstead from St Helens Arts Service, Colin Simpson from the Williamson Art Gallery and Phillip Wroe from Sefton Arts Development. We all have very different Open exhibitions in our Boroughs so the selection process has been fantastic. We have had laughs, arguments, stamping tantrums and lengthy debate over the artworks. We were looking for technical ability, use of medium, creativity, subject matter, composition and sheer genius which we have found in excess as we travelled around greater Merseyside.

One of the highlights of the selection was 'Man in a Blue Sweater' by Michael Kirby, from Kirkby, Knowsley. This small but powerful image has been used to promote the exhibition in the publicity so the portrait will be printed on thousands of flyers and banners. 

We will be running workshops to support this exhibition which will be announced shortly so watch this space for details.

Thanks are due to Arts Council England and to National Museums Liverpool, we couldn't have done it without you."