The John Moores Painting Prize 2018 & some Beautiful Bunting!

We’re in full summer holiday mode here at the moment and lovin’ every minute (just about!).

Today we did one of our favourite things – hop on a train and head to The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

The John Moores Painting Prize* 2018 exhibition is on display at the moment and so we headed in to have a look.

(The *JMPP is a painting competition open to all UK-based artists working with paint. It culminates in an exhibition at the Walker Art Exhibition in Liverpool which is held at the same time as the Liverpool Biennial. It’s named after the sponsor of the prize, Sir John Moores (1896 – 1993) and was originally intended as a one-off. It’s now a biennial event and this will be the 30th exhibition in 60 years – since its launch in 1957).

One of the first paintings to catch the boys’ attention was ‘doubt and distance…..of lost content’ by Pete Clarke. They found it very intriguing, thinking about what kinds of creatures might live in such a place.

doubt and distance……of lost content by Pete Clarke

We all liked Virginia Verran’s ‘Black Star,’ enjoying looking at the shapes and patterns.

Black Star by Virginia Verran

‘One Hundred Harvests’ by Liz Elton is made from painted food bags, getting the viewer to consider our use and waste of materials and impact on surroundings.

One Hundred Harvests by Liz Elton

There were many bold and bright artworks on display, such as the ones by Nicholas William Johnson (‘The Intolerable Strangeness of Vegetable Consciousness (Sunspilt II)’) and Alan Fears (‘My Favourite Chair’).

These contrasted against the muted tones of Mark Osbornes’s ‘Untitled Pink’ artwork.

One of my favourite pieces in the exhibition was ‘Red Road’ by Graham Martin.

The winner of the John Moores Painting Prize 2018, beating 2,700 entries, was Jacqui Hallum with her ‘King and Queen of Wands’ textile piece. Her artwork drew inspiration from a deck of tarot cards – the King and Queen represented at either end of the piece. Such work always causes a stir in the art world, with many questioning whether it should have triumphed over the others. But, I have to say, whether you consider it to be art or not, it did have a presence in the gallery. You can listen to Jacqui talking about her work here.

We then had a go a creating our own works of art inspired by Luci Soni’s ‘Untitled Bunting’

Untitled Bunting by Luci Soni


We all agreed that it was a great afternoon, if a little tiring!

Snoozing on the train home!

You can visit here to find out all about The John Moores Painting Prize 2018 paintings.


Bringing Books Alive!

Dragon Finale

The other weekend we took a trip to the Children’s Book Festival 2018 at Quarry Bank to enjoy a day of superb storytelling!


We joined author and illustrator, David Litchfield, as he read his award-winning book – ‘The Bear and the Piano’, with special musical accompaniment from a piano playing bear (naturally!)

After listening to the story we were then set the brief of designing our very own bears, which would form part of The Big Bear Band! After pondering ideas and with paper and pencils galore we set to the task in hand.

The Final Designs!

Ol’ Red with piercin’ blue eyes and a song to warm the coldest of hearts! Designed, drawn and coloured by Heath aged 6. Please note that MUCH arm ache was endured to achieve the VERY realistic fur with a rather blunt crayon and NO pencil sharpener in sight! But, as I told my eldest son, sometimes you just gotta suffer for your art!

Ol' Red playing his guitar!The Blue Masked Bear. Designed, drawn and coloured by Rowan aged 3&3/4. Blue is a part-time performer, part-time superhero. He has to be ready, at any given moment, to spring into action and thwart the bad guys – hence the mask!

The Blue Masked Bear.Both, I think you’ll agree, quite complex characters!

With completed artwork in hand we joined The Big Bear Band in a rousing finale of The Bare Necessities (go on have a sing-song!). The perfect end to the session!

With vocal chords suitably loosened we went in search of David Litchfield to say hello and get our copy of ‘The Bear and the Piano’ signed.

In the aftermath of all excitement we decided to take a gentle stroll around Quarry Bank, ice cream in hand, to have a look at all the other activities on offer.

A great time was had by all and we’ll definitely be back for more next year!

Feeling inspired I dug out some illustrations that I have been working on for a couple of picture book ideas. I’ve been busily scribbling away over the last year, but, as there are many other things competing for my attention it often feels like a slow process. However, sitting back and taking the time to look through all of my drawings I realised just how much I have developed them. Most of the story and initial roughs are complete and even some colour and character experimentations. A long way to go, but not a bad start!

One story is about a girl and a dragon dress-up competition.

The other features a giraffe lovin’ boy as the main character.

Now, just to crack on and get them finished before my little boys are too old to read them!

Lovely Liverpool!

Gay Is OK

The other day my little sidekick and I hopped on a train and headed to Liverpool.

First stop The Walker Art Gallery and, as always, the obligatory sampling of the treats in the cafe took place straight away!

Feeling replenished we made our way around the gallery, looking at the artwork on display and came across the bold and bright activist signs and slogans by Lois Tierney.  Using her wonderfully vibrant artwork as inspiration we coloured a mini LGBT+ placard of our own to take home.

We then headed to Big Art for Little Artists, which is a section of the gallery that is dedicated to children – lots of fun to be had here! We snipped, we stuck and made……….a Zebra snake!

After letting our creative juices flow we made the short walk down the road to The World Museum, where beasts, bugs and bones were the order of the afternoon! (We particularly like the Clore Natural History Centre area, as you get your paws on all sorts of fascinating objects – from an elephant’s skull to a snakeskin (after moulting!).)

Then there was just enough time to nip to the Central Library (which is sandwiched between the gallery and museum), cosy up and leaf through a good couple of picture books before heading back to the train station and home.

Oh, and of course, a day trip isn’t complete without fleecing mum in the gift shop!