Yoko Ono is represented along with other important contemporary artists in a new exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from 2 February 2013. ‘New Works at the Walker’ consists of more than 50 works from the gallery’s own collection and includes pieces by Anish Kapoor, Paula Rego, Wolfgang Tillmans and winner of the 2010 Northern Art Prize, Haroon Mirza. An eclectic mix of installations, paintings, drawings, prints, video, sculpture, costume and decorative arts, the exhibition explores the broad range of work the Walker has collected in recent years.
A number of household names emphasise the significance of the collection. Red in the Centre by Anish Kapoor was made during a residency at the Walker in 1981-82. Kapoor was yet to establish an international reputation and this work offers an insight into this modern master’s early influences. The Walker has also acquired Kapoor’s 1993 piece Sculpture which was a gift from Bluecoat Display Centre. The exhibition features three etchings from Paula Rego’s powerful Abortion series; Yoko Ono’s Liverpool Skyladders, made for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial; stunning photographic prints by Wolfgang Tillmans, acquired through the Art Fund, and a delicate textile work by Louise Bourgeois.
It’ll be the first chance to see some exciting new additions to the collection at the Walker. This display includes Lubaina Himid’s acclaimed We Will Be, first exhibited in the influential exhibition Black Woman Time Now in 1983, and former Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy, Ivor Abrahams’ dramatic, Head of the Stairs. It was presented by Professor Ivor Abrahams and Evelyne Abrahams through the Art Fund. Alongside well-established names a new generation of artists figure in the collection. A Sleek Dry Yell is an intriguing sound sculptural installation, by one of the UK’s hottest artists, Haroon Mirza, winner of the 2010 Northern Art Prize. It was purchased by the Contemporary Art Society through the Sculpture Fund, supported by Cathy Wills. An important animation and drawing by Manchester artist Rachel Goodyear, (another rising star, nominated for the Northern Art Prize in 2009), gifted by the artist, are also on display.
The biennial John Moores Painting Prize, held at the gallery since 1957, has helped establish the Walker’s strong association with contemporary painting. A selection of some of the most recent winners are on show, including another chance to see Sarah Pickstone’s winning 2012 painting, Stevie Smith and the Willow, acquired with assistance of the Art Fund. The exhibition explores the gallery’s objectives when selecting new work. A strong body of work by women artists demonstrates an active direction by the Walker to strengthen this area. Key pieces which deliver a strong feminist message include the work of Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick and Lubaina Himid.
Video-based pieces such as Nancy Davenport’s Workers (Leaving the Factory), as well as prints and drawings by Paula Rego, James Unsworth and Rachel Goodyear, indicate the Walker’s commitment to representing both new media, and works on paper that are fully realised artworks in their own right. Director of Art Galleries, Sandra Penketh said: “New Works at the Walker presents a rich display of contemporary fine and decorative art, which might come as a surprise to those who only associate the gallery with its outstanding historic collection.
“The exhibition explores how good working relationships with artists and art organisations have helped enhance the Walker’s contemporary collection. From the generosity of artists who have gifted their work to the Walker such as Yoko Ono, Lubaina Himid and Rachel Goodyear, to the support of the Art Fund and Contemporary Art Society, this exceptional collection remains fresh and relevant.”