The Bluecoat Liverpool: 'Soft Estate' exhibition review

What an interesting landscape subject... to explore the empty spaces next to motorways, 'dead land' underneath bridges, allotments and waste grounds. Places that have been left alone to overgrow, are unloved and wild.

As a landscape artist I am always keen to go to new exhibitions that explore our meaning of place, how we interact with and perceive it. So imagine my interest when hearing about the new exhibition at the Bluecoat called 'Soft Estate' (there is nothing 'soft' about it in the slightest).

Through a mixture of paintings, drawings, photographs and some installation work, a variety of artists have interpreted those empty spaces...

Moving around I was particularly drawn to Laura Oldfield Ford's ink and chalk drawings which look at
these empty spaces and makes them into her own personal scene of viewing. Her vivid pink chalk slashes warm up the drawings making them feel immediate and vivid, which is oddly comforting considering what it must be like to be in this environment.

Laura Oldfield Ford (chalk, acrylic and ink on watercolour paper)

Edward Chell 'Creeping Thistle' 2013
Photography by Peter Abrahams
There are also collages or 'edgeland postcards' by Day Bowman and John Darwell's photographs that show in-between spaces used for leisure such as dog walking trails. Its a sad fact of life to see old bicycles left in ponds to rust away and dog poo bags hung up on trees waiting for someone to take it away.

Throughout the exhibition Edward Chell's large high sheen, metallic prints are a contemporary vision of depicting these modern wildernesses. A good exhibition, one which will pleasantly surprise you considering the subject matter!

'Soft Estate' open daily and on until Sun 23rd Feb


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