I love thinking about art, and talking about art, and what it means and says. Art – and for the purposes of this site I mean visual art, in broad terms – says more about the people and place where it comes from than perhaps even they realise. I love going to museums, galleries and contemporary shows alike because there’s always the possibility that I’ll be surprised with finding some new way of expressing the world. That thrill is what keeps me coming back.
This site is mostly dedicated to things happening in my Merseyside locale. I moved to Liverpool in 2008 and fell in deeply in love with the city. The narrative of Scouse exceptionalism isn’t entirely true, but can be a useful template in some ways. If we want the city to be the genuine hub of culture and community it is in the imagination, we all need to support the structures which make it so. For the purposes of this site, that includes the visual arts. I started this site because as an art lover I wanted to share the things I see with the world, start discussions where I can. If one new person sees one show they wouldn’t have done otherwise because they read about it here, my job is done.
Beyond the city borders, Art History is one of my big things. I spent 2017-19 working on my MA in the subject, and am trying to work on ways I can work through its questions outside of academia. It’s such a shame it’s become seen as a preserve of the posh and privileged – there’s so many interesting stories to be told. During Lockdown 2020 I ran Messy Histories on Instagram, and I have ideas to continue this in some form into the future.
For more, check out my 2018 profile in Art in Liverpool magazine.
Messy Lines is:
And by this, I mean much more than just the big galleries and institutions Liverpool’s famous for. Messy Lines will be a place which covers all artists of this city and region, including the studios and collectives which fundamentally constitute a truly “thriving” creative scene.
The only caveat to this is that I will only write here about shows the public can access. If your exhibition is only one weekend, a write-up is unlikely. But it might get a shout on Instagram.
I’ve long had ambitions to expand further around the North West when I can, but there’s only one of me. Be patient.
In addition, I’ve taken time and space to reflect on who is being given attention here. I have strong feelings about art needing to be more than the voices of the white middle-class, which I haven’t always enacted here.
This will change. Messy Lines will feature a more diverse range of artists across spectrums of class, race and gender. It won’t fall for tokenism.
Fundamental to my thinking about art is that your emotional response is at the core of interpretation. I can be interested in historical and social contexts, but it’s that initial and personal emotional response which gets me involved in the first place.
Most of my thoughts written here are inspired by that emotional response. I know how to write academically, but you don’t come here for super-formal or academic writing. There’s other places to look for that. I want Messy Lines to be a place where you find what one person actually thinks.
I’ll always try to express this as clearly as I can. In the past I think I’ve become a bit bogged down in language or trying to be tactful. No more.
That said, it may be helpful to know that it’s in my personality to naturally try to see the good in everything. This will be true here, too. But I’m not afraid to call out things I view as bad. In the long-term, what will be missing from here is the indifferent: who has time for that?