Former Birkenhead Marks and Spencer store to host art exhibition

A new art exhibition is to take place in the former Marks and Spencer store in the Grange Precinct, Birkenhead.

The Town is the Gallery programme is about making arts and culture a part of the everyday. Creating accessible ways for communities to engage and be enriched through the arts.

Ryan Gauge and Andrew Shaw, the co-directors of Convenience Gallery, who are organising the exhibition said, “It is our most ambitious programme to date and will create art access across the town of Birkenhead and wider Wirral across a number of partnered venues.

“This will be a multi-project initiative consisting of exhibitions, installations, workshops, creative courses, film festivals, and creative support for residents and artists.

“The Town is the Gallery will create joyous everyday moments for all generations across the borough, that provide a platform for arts and culture to thrive! Nurturing existing talent and creating new opportunities to inspire the next generation. We want to make Birkenhead and the Wirral a destination for arts and culture.”

Kate Bigley (pictured above) is a Wirral-based artist based from Moreton whose work will be on display alongside that of Leo Fitzmaurice at the Marks and Spencer store as a part of The Town is the Gallery programme

Speaking to Birkenhead News, Kate said that she discovered art through her family, saying, “My dad would teach me and my brother how to draw from a really young age.” Continuing to improve and enjoying art throughout her school years, including at sixth form, she then took fine art at Liverpool John Moores University and graduated in 2019.

“Since then, I’ve tried to move into part-time work where I would be in creative environments. I worked at Bloom Building in Birkenhead and that’s where I met [Convenience Gallery founders] Ryan and Andy, and it just kind of went from there!”

Kate continued, “At uni, we were encouraged to look at different areas of art, but I always came back to my line drawings – I’d always come back to the drawing aspect of it. And so I would draw line drawings and then find a way to recreate those into paintings that have taken the form of line and then found ways of making it larger.”

And for Kate’s part of the exhibition, it is those large interpretations of her line drawings that you will see. She has scaled up her line drawings of people larger than life as if shopping in the former Marks and Spencer and she hopes that the scale of the installation will create an impact that her smaller works can’t.

Kate currently resides in the Wellington Road Artist Studios in Oxton, alongside well-established and accomplished Wirral artists. You can visit Kate in her studio during the Wirral Open Studio Tour in June 2024.

The Town is the Gallery exhibition launch takes place on Saturday, 11 May. For free or donation tickets head to skiddle: https://skiddle.com/e/38269373

Kate Bigley, In a past line: Wednesday – Saturday, 10:30am – 4pm – 11 May to 8 June at Convenience Pop Up, Old M&S Building, 39 Borough Pavement, Birkenhead, CH41 2YE

Leo Fitzmaurice, FIT IT: Wednesday – Saturday, 10:30am – 4pm – 11 May to 8 June at Convenience Pop Up, Old M&S Building, 39 Borough Pavement, Birkenhead, CH41 2YE

Camille Smithwick: All paths lead to the river: Wednesday-Friday 1pm-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm – 11 May to 31 August at Birkenhead Priory

Image: Kate Bigley with one of her super-sized shopper line drawing interpretations at Marks and Spencer. Credit: www.fotopiaimages.com

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