Sea Change: The Art of England’s North West Coast

Saturday 23 August– Sunday 9 November

L.S.Lowry loved painting the sea, so it’s fitting that one of his most prestigious and scarcely-seen works will be the centrepiece of a major exhibition celebrating the transformation of the North West coast over the last two centuries.

Major British artists have been inspired by the NW coastline, from Antony Gormley for his iconic sculpture at Crosby beach to Morecambe Bay landscape painters  JMW Turner and David Cox.

Lowry’s oil on canvas “July, The Seaside”, on loan to The Atkinson from Arts Council England’s Southbank Centre, London, was painted in 1943 and demonstrates the artist’s inability to paint shadows. A dull day and a beach set against an industrial background perfectly depict what he once said: “I only deal with poverty and gloom. I never do a jolly picture”.

This major exhibition of paintings, poetry, sculpture and state-of-the-art film includes two exhibits from documentary photographer Martin Parr’s iconic  “The Last Resort” collection featuring a dilapidated New Brighton in the 1980s.

An archival print of the late Irish photographer Chambre Hardman featuring “The Birth Of The Ark Royal” has also been loaned by the National Trust. This world famous 1950s photograph of the HMS Ark Royal was taken from the top of Holt Hill in Birkenhead. The ship had just been painted white, as part of preparations for its launch from the Cammell Laird shipyard by the Queen Mother.

Picture Post photographer Bert Hardy’s iconic Blackpool Belles photograph featuring two girls sitting on railings on Blackpool’s beachfront in July 1951 will also be exhibited. The picture appeared on the front cover of the magazine and later became an iconic image of life in post-war Britain.

Representing the modern political seachange is Cumbria-based ceramicists Paul Scott with his enamel plate featuring a Sellafield screenprint and Andy Goldsworthy who makes a stance with his photographic collection, Heysham Head.

Contemporary photographer Paul Kenny’s newly-commissioned work made of found materials on Ainsdale Beach symbolises the environmental transformation.

Stephen Whittle, Museums and Exhibitions Manager at The Atkinson, has co-ordinated the exhibition over six months.

He says: “I’m particularly pleased to include an iconic painting of ‘The Wreck of the Eliza Fernley’. Specially conserved for the exhibition, it was originally paid for by public subscription after the tragic loss of all but two of the Southport lifeboat’s crew and all the crew of the St Anne’s lifeboat.

“Sea Change reflects all aspects of the transformation of the north west coast over the last 200 years which has seen a massive tourist boom. Blackpool was a tiny hamlet and Southport didn’t even feature on the map until the early 1800s, whilst Fleetwood only came into existence when it was created from nothing by Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood in the 1830s.

 “Then there was the massive industrialisation from Birkenhead to Barrow and the rapid expansion of the fishing industry and international travel and trade.  The natural coastline is equally dynamic and is constantly shifting.”

There are political, environmental, contemporary and traditional works on show. So it should appeal to anyone who has an interest in the history and present day life of the North West British seaside.”

The exhibition is part of the Sefton Coastal Festival, which runs 6-14 September, and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information on the exhibition please visit or call box office on 01704 533333.





Sea Change: The Art of England’s North West Coast

Saturday 23 August– Sunday 9 November


The Atkinson
Lord Street



In person: Visit The Atkinson box office on Lord Street

For tickets: visit the website call box office on 01704 533333



Notes to Editors

For more information, interviews, images or review tickets, please contact Emma Lloyd at The Atkinson on 0151 934 2129 |


About The Atkinson

The Atkinson is Southport’s beautiful new home for music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history, right in the middle of Lord Street in Southport. Significant investment has been made in refurbishing the stunning 19th century buildings, to create a really welcoming multi art-form venue with a strong contemporary feel.

The Atkinson offers an exciting and varied destination for families, cultural tourists and arts enthusiasts alike, with a full day and night time offer. Wile the day away visiting the new shop, that sells gifts and contemporary crafts from regional makers and then relax in the Bakery, choosing from a selection of artisan bread sandwiches, cakes and sharing platters. You can even take little bit of The Atkinson home with you from the delicatessen. Wonder through the major exhibitions and see performances from some of the UK’s foremost musicians, actors, performers and companies, films, family activities and much more.

In October 2014 The Atkinson becomes something even more exciting for visitors, with the opening of the museum which will tell the story of Southport and Sefton as well as the area’s dramatic maritime history. It will also be the new home for the Goodison Egyptology Collection, a remarkable collection of archaeology that has not seen for over 40 years.




Posted on 7 July 2014 under General news

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