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Exhibition: Art of portraits and their sitters on show
Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture
PORTRAIT sitters will take centre stage in a major new exhibition to celebrate Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

The exhibition – Characters: The People Behind the Portraits – at the Atkinson Gallery, Southport, will be one of Sefton’s contributions towards the celebrations.

The show is based on portraits in the Atkinson’s own collection and others from collections around the country.

“There are a lot of loans,” explains Jo Jones, Sefton’s Arts and Cultural Services Manager (Museums and Galleries).

The thinking behind the show, opening on April 12, is to tell the stories of the sitters and how their portraits came to be painted.

Art historian Kevin Hunt has written a catalogue to go with the show and helped divide it into sections. There will be self-portraits, celebrity portraits and family portraits.

Among the former, there is a sculpture of sculptor Jacob Epstein loaned from Preston and a drawing of himself from Stanley Spencer, borrowed from Birkenhead’s Williamson Gallery.

Mick Jagger is seen in typical 1960s Pop Art fashion in a 1968 portrait by Pamela Mitchell borrowed from Gallery, Oldham.

An earlier celebrity – artist Dame Laura Knight – is seen in a 1925 oil from Ethel Bartlett.

One of the oldest family portraits is that of a Tudor family, the Townleys, on loan from Townley Hall, near Burnley. The family is seen kneeling in prayer. “It is unusual,” says Ms Jones “in that infant members of the family who did not survive are shown as adults.”

Another peculiar family portrait comes from Walter Sickert. Titled Sinn Feiners, it shows a woman side by side with her husband who is holding a rifle. Alongside the exhibition, there will be a series of events including guided tours, talks, family activity sessions, Portrait of the Month talks and workshops. Entry to the gallery is free and is open Tues-Thurs, 10am-5pm, Fri, noon-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm, and Sun, 2pm-5pm.

Text and image by Liverpool Daily Post, UK

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