Refractive Pool: Contemporary Painting in Liverpool at Walker Art Gallery

Part of our Exhibitions guide

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
© Robin Clewley

Refractive Pool: Contemporary Painting in Liverpool at Walker Art Gallery, City Centre, 29 April 2022–8 January 2023, free entry - Visit now

It’s always a good idea for city galleries to take the pulse of the local art scene – to look around and closely examine what’s happening on the doorstep instead of always relying on loans and blockbuster names. The Walker Art Gallery is doing exactly this with the brand new show Refractive Pool which gathers the work of 21 Liverpool painters.

The show is curated by Liverpool-based artists Josie Jenkins and Brendan Lyons. Having expressed a sense of disconnection between the city’s practising artists and local galleries, the Walker obliged by acknowledging the need for early-career artists to have opportunities to show in larger, public galleries and Refractive Pool was born.

Detail of artwork by co-curator and exhibiting artist Josie Jenkins
© Robin Clewley


The chosen artists range from those who have already exhibited at the Walker in the past, those for whom this will be the first time in a public gallery. The artists are: Pete Clarke, Joana De Oliveira Guerreiro , Frances Disley, Cherie Grist, David Jacques, Louis Jeck Prestidge, Josie Jenkins, Gareth Kemp, Anna Ketskemety, Sumuyya Khader, Brendan Lyons, Richard Meaghan, Brian Mountford, Millie Toyin Olateju, M.B O’Toole, James Quin, The Singh Twins, Luke Skiffington, Gary Sollars, Jason Thompson and Zahra.

Detail of artwork by Louis Jeck Prestidge
© Robin Clewley


Some of the exhibition highlights include the work of Anna Ketskemety who often works on found objects such as mirrors or bits of wood, and whose images are explicitly sourced from photographs, often in familiar settings. Ketskemety’s work touches on themes of authenticity, the domestic and the relationship between the painting surface and its more 3-dimensional elements.

On the theme of sculptural paint, co-curator Brendan Lyons creates three-dimensional items such as ‘plastic’ bags made purely from paint. A fun treat to experience in a gallery, Lyons’ pieces make you want to come closer to the object and exclaim ‘but how exactly was this made?’.

Artwork by co-curator and exhibiting artist Brendan Lyon
© Robin Clewley


Joana De Oliveira Guerreiro’s pieces are often large-scale canvases with surprising imagery and multiple meanings. Making the most of humour and irony, the artist talks about key issues like social and political shifts or climate change, but the characters she depicts are imbued with their own personalities and their quirks draw the viewer in.

The exhibition is filled with highlights large and small, so you will have to visit to see them for yourself! Once you’re there, you’ll also be able to find the Refractive Pool publication, featuring extracts from interviews with 38 Liverpool-based artists alongside their photographic portraits and images of their work. As part of the show, the Walker also presents poetry by Paul Farley, who was commissioned to write a poem for the publication, The Studio, accompanying the show.

Refractive Pool: Contemporary Painting in Liverpool at Walker Art Gallery, City Centre

29 April 2022–8 January 2023
Free entry