Tuesday 2 April 2013
Titanic and Beryl Bainbridge exhibitions in Liverpool
After refuelling on coffee and cake – there’s a world of choice for eating and drinking at the Albert Dock complex – we strolled across to the Museum of Liverpool. Whatever the visitor’s personal view on the exterior of this building – a marvel of modern architecture, or a blot on the landscape in a previously iconic waterfront scene – its contents cannot be faulted. Impossible to do it justice in a full day and we only had a couple of hours, but I was concentrating on the Skylight Gallery and its exhibition of Beryl Bainbridge’s paintings. No – I didn’t know she was a painter either! The exhibition is entitled ‘Artwork by Dame Beryl Bainbridge’, and is also due to close soon.
Beryl’s paintings are heavily autobiographical, like her novels. She said she wrote to remember her life, to make sense of it, and many of her stories are based on her own experiences, with an added plot – usually a murder. In the paintings, family and friends often appear, even in those based on events and people in history; one depicts her dancing with Napoleon!
Art appreciation is always subjective, so my personal reaction to Dame Bainbridge’s paintings is unimportant here, but two paintings in particular completed my Titanic-themed day: ‘Boarding the Titanic’, and ‘The Titanic and Lifeboat’. The latter is unusual in that the faces of the people in the lifeboat are a collage of images cut from books and magazines. Among these are Mickey Rooney, Dr Johnson, and Hitler as a child – the first two are easy to spot, but I couldn’t find Hitler!
I arrived home with sore feet and a bad back, but the ‘characters’ in Every Man for Himself, Captain Smith; Bruce Ismay; Lord and Lady Duff Gordon; Thomas Andrews; the crew and the high society passengers, were no longer just names from history. The book and the exhibitions all combined to bring them back to life once more.