Politics of Beauty

Chrissy & Paul Collinson (Hull),

John Elcock & Josie Jenkins (Liverpool)

Thursday 30 August - Friday 28 September 2018

Gallery Open: Thur - Sat 10am - 2pm and by appointment

Please call 07773 287827 for more details

This exhibition brings together four artists from both ends of the M62 whose works can be said to deal in some way with the idea of beauty and its political connotations.

Western beauty is still epitomized in the Ancient Greek ideal of the smooth and perfect human figure, usually naked to emphasize the unblemished skin and smooth curves of youth. Edmund Burke famously surmised in 1756 that beauty is usually inherent in smallness, smoothness and delicacy in a social context, thereby connoting feminine sexuality and love. E F Schumacker posited in 1973 that economically ‘small is beautiful’, especially ‘as people mattered’. The ideal of beauty and its aesthetic has been appropriated by contemporary consumer society using images of ‘beauty’ to sell everything and anything, from cars to holiday destinations, from lipstick to mobile phones, and from lifestyles to relationships. In doing so beauty becomes politicized.

But what happens to beauty when nature and time happen? Pleasing decay, the picturesque beauty that is captured in Chrissy Collinson’s paintings and drawings is what happens. As art objects they are certainly beautiful and jewel like, being small and perfectly detailed. But the subject matter depicted is the effect of entropy – time and nature – and the roughness and irregularity it creates on the unseen urban architecture and landscape within the city: the city in this case being Chrissy’s home city of Hull.

Liverpool based artist Josie Jenkins’ paintings reflect her time spent during residencies in the Chinese city of Xiamen, a city undergoing rapid industrialisation. It is a city is surrounded by a landscape of natural beauty and this can be glimpsed in Josie’s rendering of the city’s architecture set against a backdrop of distant hills and mountains: the manmade presence is in stark contrast to the beauty of the loosely painted blue and green hills. The compositions and paint become a metaphor for the changes the city as a whole is undergoing from the impact of western consumer society.

Paul Collinson uses the smoothness of the painted surface in his paintings to represent the hyper-real beauty of modern consumer society. Within the modern shopping centre is all that is beautiful and sexual, both virtually and real. Even the holiday destination of historic Middle Eastern ruins is not immune from the advertising industry’s sexualisation of celebrity and the Western standards of beauty.

John Elcock’s paintings provide the viewer with respite from the contemporary excesses of beauty aesthetics by finding a beauty in a ploughed field, and a lump of stone. By rendering a more contemplative landscape of the mundane, that ever present beauty that we ourselves can find is celebrated in a quiet manner. John’s paintings suggest a beauty that is based on more than appearances, and how beauty is something that invokes feelings of love.

For further details please call Nic Corke on 07773 287827


Download the "Angels and Open Windows" Exhibition Catalogue

Download "Angels and Open Windows" Press Release

Download 'Strokes of Colour 2017' Exhibition Catalogue

Read more on Art in Liverpool

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Read more about the exhibition at Art in Liverpool


Peter Grant, Wirral Globe Review


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28th June 2018

** UPDATE **

We raised £15,000!!!

Thank you to everyone who donated and bought - this will make a huge difference to the lives of so many people. Thank you to Sue Poole from Monkton Nursery School who convinced me to do this and who chased up all the artists and friends who donated artworks - you are amazing!!!

Download and view the Auction Catalogue

This year the Corke Gallery is proud to be one of the sponsors of the John Moores Painting Prize which is celebrating its 60th year.


Impressions of Landscape at the Corke Gallery at night

Main Gallery

Gallery 2

Gallery 2

Gallery 3

Previous Exhibition


Peter Philip, Clifford Sayer, John Vesty

Thursday 10 - Saturday 26 May 2018

(Gallery Open 10am - 2pm, Thursday - Saturday)

The new ‘Portraits’ exhibition features 60 original paintings by four artists who all have a distinctive style and approach.

PETER PHILIP is representational painter working mainly in oils who depicts subjects that are part of everyday life. Inspired by traditional classical paintings he paints contemporary subjects firmly establishing his compositions in the present day.

CLIFFORD SAYER has always focussed on the figurative , very much influenced by Carravagio, Velasquez, El Greco, Picasso, Degas, Manet and Freud. In 2010 Clifford started the ‘Literalist’ painting movement, emphasising the meaning of painting for paintings sake, thereby the term 'Literalism' was born. This latest series of paintings celebrate natural light and form in a fresh and immediate style.

JOHN VESTY celebrates the nude in an impressionistic style, touches of humour and some almost presented like slabs of bare flesh which resulted in the original exhibition of 21 paintings being banned because ‘council staff’ found it offensive because it featured older ladies naked or wearing just a hat! It’s hard to believe but it was in Cromer in Norfolk – see the press report in the Telegraph at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/7953429/Can-a-modest-nude-really-be-that-offensive.html - ‘Partial View’ the painting pictured in the press article is actually in the show and available for sale.

Previous Exhibition


Thursday 13 - Saturday 5 May 2018

(Gallery Open 10am - 2pm, Thursday - Saturday)

Corke Gallery New Contemporaries logo

Since 2010 we have been committed to working with both new and established artists and promoting contemporary art in Liverpool.

In 2017 we were impressed with the standard of painting at the Liverpool Hope University Fine Art Department and agreed to offer an Exhibition Award to the student or students whose work we judged to have stood out at the Liverpool Hope University 2017 Fine Art Graduate Degree Show . The standard of the students work was very high and made the selection process particularly difficult.

After viewing all the paintings in the show we finally decided that four students stood out and this NEW CONTEMPORARIES exhibition features new artworks by all four artists as well as a few that were included in the Degree Show.

A particular highlight, and a first at the Corke Gallery, will be Olivia Maddocks whole room painting which will feature a single painting covering all the walls and the floor of one of the gallery rooms.


Personal recollections of my natural homeland in the Scottish Highlands and upbringing in central Africa, specifically Malawi and Zimbabwe, inform the eclectic abstract paintings, characterised by an aesthetic drawn from African and Western cultural memories.

Inspired by the colourful wall paintings of the Ndebele women of southern Africa who decorate the walls of their homes with abstract symbols to express themes of cultural resistance, continuity, aspiration and celebration, I find my art practice to be an amalgam of what I perceive as a dual cultural identity best described as my inescapable ‘Two Tribes’.

There appears to me to be an affinity between the African tribal and Scottish clan systems, and just as the Northern Ndebele were displaced in a Zulu diaspora, I find a relevance in Scottish clan history with the Highland clearances and exodus of dispossessed people. This leads me to be interested in concepts of ‘displacement’ and material choices become important in the making of the work.

The square format favoured relates to the textiles, kilts and quilts that identify both tribes and clans. I enjoy the concept that by hanged the work in any orientation the painting may offer up a surprising new perspective.



Flesh as a subject is a beautiful, natural aspect of the human form which can conflict the emotions desire and revulsion, visualise various forms of weight and even dramatic folding of skin; it is these aspects I find truly fascinating. Within my oil paintings, the abstraction of these organic forms becomes the forefront of investigation. The abstract allows me as a painter to stretch the boundaries and perceptions of the flesh, creating new forms which have been manipulated from various existing sources and observations. The abstract also allows the viewers and I greater conversation with the painting’s forms, evoking perhaps sympathies or contrastingly revulsions for the bodily painting.

There is reference to both bodily and landscape contours within the ambiguous paintings with each beginning with no end composition in mind. They are built with a continuous method of slow, looking, fast painting and consistently share a specific flesh toned palette.

At present the abstracted flesh battles with an ephemeral atmosphere contrasting the weight of solid flesh forms against a clouded space of memory and void.


Notions of structure and chaos initially informed my work to create a series of abstract paintings that depicted structured geometric forms and chaotic watercolour background. Over time my practice has moved away from exploring chaos and structure; with my work becoming more concerned with exploring where the boundaries lie between painting and sculpture and whether they can be broken.

Using elements of both painting and sculpture in my work I deliberately confuse the boundaries to leave the viewer questioning whether my work is a sculpture or a painting often presenting paintings like sculptures and sculptures like paintings. Through this my practice has recently moved into installation where my abstract paintings have started to come to life. Drawing back on the original themes of chaos and structure I create interactive spaces which invite the viewer to become part of the work by moving the painterly sculptures around.


I work in a wide range of media both traditional and non-traditional with which I am interested in portrayal of the figure, character, but mainly the human condition.

My work combines elements of abstraction, realism and surrealism. I create work around the idea of value, and how it can and will change through time and occurrence.

I use comedy and bright colours to raise the question of value within a subject.

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Exhibition Archive

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Please call 07773 287827 to make an appointment to see the exhibition outside normal opening hours.