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NML announces 'celebration of artistic expression' for autumn 2024

An exhibition celebrating the life and career of Liverpool’s Holly Johnson and a dazzling collection of outfits from the 1920s onwards are among the attractions planned by National Museums Liverpool autumn programme it has been revealed.

The Holly Johnson Story, which opens at the Museum of Liverpool in September, will explore the life and art of the former Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman as well as the heritage of the city’s gay communities.

The exhibition is being created in collaboration with Johnson himself, along with Homotopia and curatorial team DuoVision, and its opening date on Saturday, September 14 coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of Frankie’s seminal album Welcome to the Pleasuredome.

Meanwhile across the water, visitors to the Lady Lever Art Gallery will get the chance to be Bedazzled – with an exhibition showcasing a brilliant range of garments from the Jazz Age onwards which explore the evolution of style and craftsmanship, along with the cultural significance of evening wear, over the past century.

Bedazzled runs from October 5 to March 2, 2025.

Back in Liverpool, Conversations – opening at the Walker Art Gallery on October 19 – will bring together work celebrating 50 leading Black British women and non-binary artists who are helping to transform contemporary British art today.

The show will include painting, sculpture and video from the past decade.

Above: Karen McLean's Stitching Souls: Threads of Silence. Top: Holly Johnson photographed by Trevor Leighton in 1989, the Hollies performing at the Cavern - courtesy of NML, and Lick your teeth, they so clutch, 2021 by Rachel Jones, part of the Conversations exhibition.

Staying at the Walker, British-Trinidadian artist Karen McLean will explore Liverpool’s colonial legacies with her work Stitching Souls: Threads of Silence which is on show from September 28 to March 2. McLean’s work has been inspired by the gallery’s extensive collection of 18th and 19th century merchants’ portraits.

And innovative glass artist Chris Day presents a remarkable blown glass and mixed media work titled Now You See Me, presented in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society and displayed alongside Gawen Hamilton’s 17th century painting The Card Party which inspired it. It will be on show from August 6 to November 24.

Above: Chris Day - Now You See Me. Photo by Tom Arber.

The work of London-raised, Hollywood-based award-winning photographer Marcus Hastings – who specialises in shots of drag performers – is being showcased in Queens by Max Hastings at the Walker for a month from the end of July.

Meanwhile along with The Holly Johnson Story, the Museum of Liverpool is also hosting Beyond the Beat in its Skylight Gallery from June 29 to November 3, with 16 previously unseen photographs taken in the Merseybeat era and from the Peter Kaye Photography archive on display.

And Bees: A Story of Survival continues at the World Museum until May 2025.

NML director Laura Pye says: “We’re delighted to announce our rich and varied programme for this autumn and winter at NML. It’s an impressive celebration of artistic expression, from the historical to the contemporary.”

Full details on the programme HERE


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