Saturday, 26 September 2009

Under The Volcano; An Exhibition for Malcolm Lowry 1909-1957

The Bluecoat's celebration of the centenary of writer Malcolm Lowry (born New Brighton, 1909) includes this special exhibition alongside a programme of performances and events. The exhibition takes its title from his best-known work, Under the Volcano, published in 1947. Set in Mexico, it is considered one of the most significant novels of the 20th century. Gabriel Garcra Marquez described it as 'probably the novel that I have read the most times in my life. I would like not to have to read it any more but that would be impossible, for I shall not rest until I have discovered where its hidden magic lies' .

Lowry has influenced not just writers, but artists working across the creative spectrum - painters, filmmakers, choreographers and musicians. This exhibition brings together contemporary visual artists from the UK and Latin America, who each respond to Lowry in different ways through painting, film, printmaking, sculpture, photography, drawing and installation. Much of the work relates to Under the Volcano, but other books and aspects of Lowry's life also provide the impetus.

The exhibition is intended to reflect Lowry's continuing inspiration for artists today, and to explore what Malcolm Bradbury has described as Lowry's 'curious internationalism'. Indeed the artists echo some of the writer's journeys, which took him from Merseyside to the Far East, Europe, USA, Mexico, Canada and finally back to England, and many points in between. Whilst the exhibition reflects Lowry's creative compass, works are not arranged chronologically or geographically and the exploration of themes moves away from simply a literal reading of the subject. Like Lowry's own writing, much of the work here is multilayered and can be read on several levels. Finding contemporary resonance in his work, the artists demonstrate that Malcolm Lowry is a writer very much for today.

Some of the works have been made especially for the exhibition, others selected from artists with a longstanding interest in Lowry. Others still, such as the paintings by Edward Burra, were created during Lowry's lifetime.

It is appropriate that the exhibition is taking place on Merseyside where Lowry was born a hundred years ago. He described Liverpool as 'that terrible city whose main street is the ocean', and though he never returned, Liverpool and the Wirral peninsular where he grew up continued to haunt him, and local references appear often in his writing. The exhibition includes a timeline tracing key moments in Lowry's colourful life, which ended in 1957 in mysterious circumstances in a village in Sussex.

Read more below about the exhibition:

Ross Birrell and David Harding's Cuernavaca: A Joourney In Search of Malcolm Lowry

Paul Rooney's film Bellvue

Adrian Henri's Entry of Christ Into Liverpool and Day of Dead, Hope Street

Julian Cooper's Under The Volcano series

Cian Qualye's photographs and film

Pete Flowers's series

Jose Martinez Garcia's etchings

Edward Burra's Mexican Church, Skeleton Party and Dancing Skeletons

Cisco Jimenez's Peddler

Ray Lowry's Under The Volcano

Brian O'Toole's Cartoons

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