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Claire’s Art Expresses the Mersey

Wednesday, 26th April

Artist Claire McCarthy with our very own Louise McWatt

Liverpool artist Claire McCarthy has launched her first major solo exhibition at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead, and Propeller Club Liverpool is proud to have been a sponsor and supporter of the work.

The Croxteth-born artist has created 73 pieces of work for her evocative Expressive Art on the Mersey exhibition, which will run until 21 May 2017.

Starting in May 2016, Claire embarked on an unprecedented art experience, boarding Mersey ferries and landing stages with her easels, watercolours, canvas and paints, challenging herself to build a new portfolio from ‘plein air’ painting.

The resulting work captures the turbulent and restless nature of the River Mersey as well as its beauty, natural rhythms and serenity. Canvases and watercolours depict views of the river, the maritime industries and the historic Mersey Ferry crossing. Speaking at the opening of the exhibition,

Propeller Club Liverpool President, Steven Jones called it, “An amazing, captivating and powerful body of work. The paintings capture the Mersey on fine days and in foul, and show our river in scenes of serene dazzling majesty, but so too as a moody, brooding rock smashing, ferry rocking seething, swashing mass.” He added, “The exhibition is definitely not one to miss…and the Williamson Gallery is a must see too”.

Claire said: “Painting from the Mersey Ferries and landing stages was a wonderful experience. It was great meeting ferry captains and crew – true mariners with such wonderful knowledge about the river and maritime community.

“I challenged myself by painting on the bow of the boat or sitting on the bridge or upper deck. Wading through the Mersey tide whilst working on board was extraordinary – sometimes tough but always exhilarating. Every time I came away from the water I felt elevated and inspired.”

The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum has a long association with the maritime industry. It was built in 1928 thanks to financial support from John Williamson, a director of the Cunard Steamship Company and has on display a large collection of ship models, especially from Cammell Laird. Curator Colin Simpson said:

“Claire approached the Williamson about her paintings as she thought they were a good fit for our gallery and we were presented with this large body of work that was crying out for an exhibition. The paintings vary from big bold canvases to watercolours which are mere wisps of colour, extremes that reflect the range of life and experience on the River Mersey in all its moods.”

This is not the first time Claire has exhibited her work. In 2012 her painting ‘Council House Window and Kitchen Sink in the Morning’ was accepted by the prestigious Mall Galleries Threadneedle Prize Exhibition.

Claire originally majored in fine art at Liverpool Hope University and later completed a post-graduate degree at Liverpool John Moores University, qualifying and then working as a teacher.

While working as a teacher she also produced works of art and her work included a piece she sold to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital. She left teaching to help care for her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.

In the last few years Claire has relaunched her career as an artist and was inspired to produce this latest exhibition after listening to The Ship, an album by music artist Brian Eno.

Claire added: “It wasn’t until I started producing these works that I realised the strong connection I felt to the river and the maritime industry. My father was a hardworking docker who grew up close to the river on Great Howard Street, and his father, my Grandad McCarthy from Cork, Ireland was a bosun. He had a taste for the sea from an early age, stowing away on a ship at age of 12 – he didn’t come back for a year.”

“The river is so powerful and a gateway to so much life – to our future and our history. It is a source of energy and renewal for all of us in this city and I will continue to explore its beauty.”

Expressive Art on the Mersey has been sponsored by Mersey Ferries, Pip Seymour Fine Art Suppliers, The Dures Partnership, Bibby Marine Service, and Propeller Club Liverpool . The exhibition runs at The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum until Sunday 21 May 2017.

A number of fellow Propellerists were on hand to support Claire