Over fifty years ago, a little girl stood in front of beautiful paintings in Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery. Last Saturday, that little girl’s grown up daughter did the same.
When I dropped in at my parents’ house on Sunday evening after my overnight stay in Liverpool, the first place my mum asked me about was the Walker Art Gallery.
“We used to go there when we were kids,” she said.
And she told me how they’d wander round, looking up at paintings, thinking art was something special, but not really knowing or understanding why. She would have been not quite ten years old. In some ways I don’t think it mattered if she never really knew what she was looking at. The important point was that these working class children from the Liverpool docklands had an opportunity to appreciate true art in the late 1950s; they could spend their Saturdays actively exploring a renowned gallery for free.
I saw the joy of a memory flash across mum’s eyes as she recalled those days gone by. It was a wonderfully powerful thing. Clearly, despite it being so long since she had last set foot inside, the Walker has stayed with her. Years later, that same art gallery has grabbed me by the heart and soul too.
The neo-Classical building that is the Walker Art Gallery stands majestically on William Brown Street in Liverpool city centre. It’s a street unlike any other you’re ever likely to see, and it’s home not just to the Walker, but also to Liverpool’s World Museum and the Central Library. Across the way stands the magnificent St Georges Hall. You don’t have to actually enter any of these buildings to be awe inspired, but you’d regret it if you didn’t.
The Walker itself is home to a vast art collection, in fact it’s one of the largest in England outside of London and it includes works from as far back as the 13th century, as well as contemporary pieces and exhibitions. It would be incredibly easy to spend the best part of the day here, lost in culture.
Our group was shown some of the key pieces by Emma, who was passionate, enthusiastic and genuinely in love with her work at the gallery. It was infectious. She wanted the Walker’s world class art to be as accessible to us as it was to those 1950s school kids. And it definitely is.
This is one place you should certainly make time to see when you visit the city of Liverpool.
I visited the Walker Art Gallery as part of a trip to Liverpool hosted by Z Hotels, Visit Liverpool and Brighter Group, but admission to the Walker is free of charge. And although the affection I feel for this place might be mildly influenced by my mum’s childhood memories, my opinions (as always) are purely my own.
Make your trip before September 15th 2013 to see Alive: In The Face of Death, an exhibition by photographer Rankin (entry is free).