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Day out in Liverpool: Bluecoat & Tate

For over two weeks have I been planning to go to Liverpool. However, first a wall came down on the train lines and then there was a train strike. But finally I made it!

First on my agenda was a visit to the Bluecoat Display Centre to see the Stalwarts exhibition, look around the shop and have a chat to one of the gallery officers. I had phoned ahead to find out whether someone was willing to talk to me and luckily Frances Gill-Smith was actually there on the day and could take some time out to talk to me. She was really very helpful and answered all my questions. What took me by surprise that the peak of their Christmas sales was outdone by their summer sales in part due to the cruise line tourists.

The shop itself is quite busy with different crafts on display. However, ceramics gets quite a lot of shelf space and is next to jewellery their top seller. The range of ceramics is really quite wide with an emphasis on contemporary. That means by living artists but also defines a style they display. They don't want oldy-worldy pots. Because of the variety on show it makes me feel that this could be future outlet. I like that each potter has information about them displayed along with the place where they are resident.

The Stalwarts exhibition was only small but had a good selection of quality pottery by renowned potters. It was interesting to see how the prices varied and here the pots by David and Margaret Frith were very reasonable. I particularly liked the pots by John Ward and Duncan Ross.

While all was fresh in my mind I wrote it all up while having lunch in the Bluecoat Gallery's cafe. I next went on to see their Art at the Heart of Bluecoat exhibition. This wasn't really my cup of tea and only a handful of art pieces caught my attention except for. However, The Dissolution of Call Centres (2009) by Adam Dant made me laugh out loud. It had a real sense of humour and reminded me of carnivalesque atmosphere of Hogarth prints.

I then decided to go on and have a look at the Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus exhibition at the Tate Liverpool.

William Blake's work was expected except for the two paintings done on Mahogany panels, which showed a much brighter and richer colour palate. It made me wonder whether the coloured prints may have also been much brighter in original. The brighter images actually had much more appeal to me. Tracy Emin's life drawings and her unmade bed leave me cold. I wish her all the best as an artist but, personally, this work lacks a visible sense of craft and refinement. Even reading the description accompanying this exhibition I could not see the link between the artworks by these two artists. I think the curators have make more of an effort to make the public understand.

An unexpected joy was the Sprung a Leak video installation/performance by Cécile B. Evans. Pam, who had been to Liverpool recently, had pointed it out to me. So, I made the effort to wait until it started. What was actually going on with changing screen images lots of voices in conversation and two robots moving about plus a robotic dog was difficult to discern. Only after reading a transcript ( of the installation did it make - a bit more - sense. However, this didn't distract from the experience for me.

What a day! My head is buzzing with new impressions.

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