On 22 November I made a trip to Liverpool with the intention of visiting two exhibitions.
The Open Eye Gallery on Mann Island has recently reopened and this gave me an opportunity to go to see the Mitch Epstein exhibition American power
I have seen Mitch’s work a number of times before, there was a small display in the artist rooms at Tate Modern last summer and some images at the National Media Museum a few months ago.
The images on display at Open eye include the iconic Carson Refinery photograph most often associated with the series but also a number of others including a high-level shot of the strip in Las Vegas. That shot alone is worth the visit encompassing as it does from its high viewpoint a swimming pool outside what I take to be the Luxor hotel surrounded by massive car parking areas and the motorway of the strip and the urban sprawl leading out into the desert. It encompasses all the various aspects of Las Vegas in one photograph. As befits such a huge subject the images themselves are displayed on a massive scale the prints being over 3 m across.
Upstairs was a small exhibition from Chris Steele-Perkins entitled The Pleasure Principle. It is always a joy to come across photographers that you really ought to have known more about but had not.
In a side room to the gallery there were a number of monographs and I must confess to preferring some of the work in his monographs to that on the walls.
Open Eye now have a small shop with a limited selection of photography books and magazines.
It is only a short walk along the waterfront back to Albert Dock where the Alice in Wonderland exhibition takes up part of the ground floor and the entire fourth floor of Tate Liverpool
I was not sure what I was going to see but the exhibition for exceeded my expectations.
On the ground floor there are a series of large-scale photographs inspired by Lewis Carroll’s work.
The fourth floor is however the main exhibit and from a photographers point of view there is a lot to see. Around 50% of the exhibits are photographic including pictures by and of Charles Dodgson himself and included in that exhibit is Dodgson’s camera and his wet collodion chemistry outfit along with some of the photographs he took Alice Pleasance Liddell between the ages of 4 and 18.
The highlight of the exhibition from me however was a number of illustrated panels by Salvador Dali. I was completely unaware of these works which perhaps shows my ignorance because later in the exhibition there were video extracts from the early Disney film and the Dali influence is obvious.
As well as Dali there are works by Paul Nash Reni Magritte, Max Ernst and a set of illustrations by Peter Blake.
Dodgson was friends with the number of the Pre-Raphaelite painters and there are a number of their works to see as well.
Being based on a book the exhibition would be incomplete without examples of the publication showing changes in the way it has been presented over the years and this includes the original handwritten manuscript by Dodgson and original pen and ink sketches he drew as guidelines for the illustrators.
All in all it was an excellent exhibition and one which will repay revisiting.