Published: 4 July 2014

VG&M exhibition opens as part of Biennial

VGM art shed

An exhibition inspired by the University of Liverpool’s original Victorian Art Sheds will open at the Victoria Gallery & Museum (VG&M) during the Liverpool Biennial.

From 1894 – 1905, makeshift Art Sheds in the Quadrangle behind the VG&M were used by the University’s School of Architecture and Applied Art.

More than 100 years later, participatory artist, Susan Forsyth, reimagines the iconic sheds in the VG&M gallery space and invites visitors one-by-one to draw and paint inside these quiet spaces and exhibit their work for others to enjoy.

‘Art Sheds’ features three unique sheds designed by Forsyth and constructed in Liverpool. In creating these individual studio spaces Forsyth applied 2,500 leaves of 22-carat gold leaf to the roofs using the traditional Renaissance technique. Within each Art Shed, traditional Victorian subjects of portraiture, still life and the nude have been carefully chosen by Forsyth to inspire visitors.

The second space in the exhibition houses Forsyth’s personal selection of early paintings, drawings, prints, textiles and sculpture from the VG&M collection including works by artists who taught in the original Art Sheds.

VG&M Curator, Moira Lindsay, said: “This exhibition celebrates the site’s creative history but it is very much a contemporary installation and we hope that visitors will spend some time within the sculptures.

“It was a delight to work with Susan and we are pleased she chose to use our collections. Looking at historic collections with an artist brings a fresh perspective and hearing what inspires artists is insightful and often unexpected.”

VGM art sheds

Susan Forsyth added: “I was inspired to create this participatory exhibition by the history and collection of the Victoria Gallery & Museum. My public art work contains a strong sense of place and a link to history and ‘Art Sheds’ combines elements of the wonderful collection with the architectural and social history of the institution. It is also important that this work is site-specific and has open-ended participatory outcomes for anyone to come and enjoy.”

The University’s School of Architecture and Applied Art opened in 1895 and provided the first formal architectural training in Liverpool. Applied arts classes were held in the Art Sheds and teachers included James Herbert McNair and Frances Macdonald.

The Liverpool Biennial 2014 takes place from 5 July – 26 October and consists of four months of contemporary art, films, talks, tours, workshops across the city.

Susan Forsyth originally trained as a painter at Chelsea College of Art and also holds an MA from Kingston University. She has exhibited widely across the UK and internationally and worked on large scale public art projects in Warsaw, Lisbon, London and Rochdale.

‘Art Sheds’ features a programme of artist-led workshops including a watercolour workshop on Wednesday, 16 July. For further details, visit the VG&M’s website:

The VG&M encourages all visitors to the Art Sheds share their work on twitter using @VictoriaGallery and #ArtSheds.

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