Photie Man: 50 Years of Tom Wood at Walker Art Gallery

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Pink lipstick (for Tracy and Vicky), 1984 © Tom Wood Archive, courtesy of National Museums Liverpool

Photie Man: 50 Years of Tom Wood at Walker Art Gallery, City Centre Until 7 January 2024 Tickets from £9, with concessions — Book now

This summer, the Walker Art Gallery welcomes Tom Wood, a local legend known affectionately as ‘Photie Man’, with a major exhibition of his photographic work from an incredibly fruitful career that spans 50 years.

Self-described as a “street photographer, portraitist and landscape photographer”, Wood has mastered the major elements of the art of recording images. Born in Ireland, he is best known for his photographs of Merseyside where he recorded the life of local people. You can recognise his trademark playful yet tender eye in photos from parties from the Looking for Love series (1989), a portrait of New Brighton’s Chelsea Reach nightclub, or the bus photographs of All Zones Off Peak (1998).

Tom Wood
Tom Wood

After over 20 years in Liverpool, Wood moved to North Wales where he continues to photograph the local landscape. While his chosen subject matter may have changed from capturing street life to photographing nature, his experimental tendencies continue to drive the work. Wood initially trained as a conceptual painter and became interested in experimental film, which eventually led him to photography. His self-taught approach continues to influence his practice, whether it is the formats, equipment and techniques, or the choice of colour for which he has a unique sense.

The retrospective features early, vintage photographs collected by the artist during his school years, as well as later, more mature documentary work, alongside never-before-seen images in a wide array of formats, including experimental film work from the 80s until now.

Tom Wood, 1986
Tom Wood, 1986

Wood’s love for Liverpool is apparent in his comment for the show: “I didn’t want a show for myself or my career, but rather to give the work back to the city where it belongs. (…) The energy of Liverpool and its people has informed all this work – it was everywhere I went, everywhere I looked. All I was doing was tapping into that. It has been a real labour of love.”

The Photie Man retrospective is a fantastic chance to see so many of Tom Wood’s photographs in their birthplace. The show offers a look back in time, at the city and its residents, alongside the artist’s other, equally as accomplished work.

Where to go near Photie Man: 50 Years of Tom Wood at Walker Art Gallery

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