Alt Valley’s literary heritage comes into light with the Bicentenary of Edward Lear’s birth on 12th of May 2012. For it was Lord Stanley, the 13th Earl of Derby who engaged the poet to paint his menagerie of animals at Knowsley Hall. Lear was just 20 years old when he moved to the Hall and his very first Nonsense poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ was written to entertain the children living there and still remains his most famous.
A major public art project was commissioned to create the Knowsley Alphabet trail at the Leisure and Culture park to celebrate Lear’s ‘Book of Nonsense’.
I visited Huyton Gallery, which has produced a superb presentation called ‘For the love of books’ displaying the early ideas of works illustrated by artists. The works in this exhibition take on a variety of formats, from bound volumes to sculpture and installations, demonstrating the power of the book to inspire and provoke an emotional response.
Classic publications by Edward Lear, whose text and illustrations share equal importance in his works, sit alongside new works by contemporary artists, and having visited the exhibition, it looks to be that Lear must have been the Mr Bean of the century!
To mark the actual Bicentenary itself however, the Walker At Gallery is also presenting a display of his watercolours ; five precious paintings so fragile they have rarely been seen out on public display, with the majority not having been exhibited since the 1970s
All this is well worth a visit!
More information on Huyton Gallery’s ‘For the Love of Books’ can be found here: http://www.artinliverpool.com/?p=27729
More information on the Walker Art Gallery’s ‘Edward Lear: Artist, Explorer, Poet’ exhibition can be found here: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/events/displayevent.aspx?eventID=9370