INSPIRED – an exhibition of art by Liverpool artists or about Liverpool – was our church’s first try at putting on an exhibition. We knew we had the space to do it; we knew we had the enthusiasm to do it: but could we do it?
After several months of planning, we began by ordering materials for a system of display which would allow us to put up boards without doing any damage to our building’s magnificent marble pillars. the display was itself the ‘inspired’ work of Dr. Richard Hooper, a lecturer at Liverpool Hope University and – fortunately for us – a member of our own congregation. Richard is a problem solver par excellence, and he designed and had made a system of taut wires and heavy boards which provided a stable and rather beautiful backdrop for the work on display.
Members of the local community were invited to submit work; we limited exhibits to paintings and photographs as we felt this would create a cohesive display. We were fortunate enough to be offered a large part of the oeuvre of work by the late Peter Curran, who had returned to Liverpool, his childhood home, to paint local scenes. His legacy of works is in the curatorship of a group of the late artist’s friends. We were indebted to Alison Waghorn and John Beese for being willing to show this work.
The exhibition began with a private viewing at which the exhibitors, their families and friends and the wider public were able to stroll amongst the displays, glass of wine or fruit juice in hand, and enjoy the leisurely atmosphere of an evening amongst the art.
The surprise hit of the exhibition was the work of Des Ross, a long-standing member of this congregation. At the time of the exhibition he was 86 years old, and had never shown his work to anyone other than his wife May and his children. His paintings recapture a Liverpool now lost: the old streets, cinemas and factories that have long been demolished or modernised. They caught the imaginations of the visitors, many of whom remembered the scenes from their own childhood, or recalled parents or grandparents talking about their memories of these places. As a consequence, there was a clamour for prints of Des’ work (on this website you will find a gallery of some of his paintings which can still be ordered).
Alice Sanders, Millie Lynch and Diane Latimer, ably assisted by other members of the congregation, ran a small but highly successful café, selling drinks and cakes – it could have been twice the size, so popular was it! We also had a small shop area which allowed people to order Des’ prints and to purchase cards, postcards and some of the other pictures on show.
Members of the other two churches in the Wavertree Group – St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity – provided much needed and welcome support in mounting and dismantling the displays, and a stalwart band came each day to help to run the exhibition. This led to the development of new friendships and helped to bind the churches together.
The purpose of the exhibition had been to raise the profile of Wavertree, and it succeeded so well in this that we were soon be asked when we would ‘do it again’. Consequently, we began to plan for an exhibition of crafts – those areas of the arts which had not been represented at our first exhibition – for the following year.