Liam Spencer: From Manchester to Shanghai

Saturday 1st July 2006

8 July - 24 September 2006 Free admission. A major retrospective of paintings by the popular Manchester artist Liam Spencer, featuring work from the early nineties to the present day.

Boat: Hong Kong (detail) by Liam Spencer, 2005
Best known for his urban landscapes of Manchester and Salford, Spencer paints familiar scenes and buildings, creating extraordinary pictures of bridges, canals, motorways, industrial buildings, rooftops, traffic and the city at night. He is very much influenced by weather conditions and is drawn to painting twilight, wet or bright sunny days, conditions in which he can exploit the saturated, rich colours which make his work so distinctive and atmospheric. As well as his Manchester pictures, the exhibition also includes recent paintings of New York and Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

Spencer is an artist who sees something fresh and interesting in the everyday life of the city. He paints from what he sees on the street, often on the journey from home to his studio, using a camera to record fleeting impressions. He has painted the Mancunian Way many times, at different times of day and in different weather conditions. The now defunct Odeon Cinema on Oxford Road, Albert Square, Urbis and Victoria Station all appear in his pictures and capture the city’s constant transformation.

In recent years Spencer’s paintings have also featured football grounds and their immediate environments; subjects include the Blue Moon Chippy outside Manchester City’s former home at Maine Road, and Annie’s Bar outside Turf Moor, Burnley. Pubs have also received attention, including The Peveril of the Peak and the ‘real’ Rovers Return; these are two institutions which have survived the redevelopment of the city.

In 2002 and 2003, Spencer painted a series of pictures in New York based on digital photographs he took there. Times Square in the rain is painted in all its vibrancy, with its traffic, streams of pedestrians and billboards. Spencer’s most recent series of paintings are scenes of cities in China; the hustle and bustle of the streets and waterways of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing are captured with the artist’s trademark use of colour and light.

On Thursday 31 August there will be a painting event in Albert Square, with the public invited to paint their own Manchester scenes.

A range of exhibition related merchandise will be on sale in the gallery shop, including books, prints and postcards.

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For further information please contact Kim Gowland, Manchester Art Gallery
Tel 0161 235 8861 Email k.gowland@manchester.gov.uk