a quick trip to birkenhead

Raspberry and I took a hop, skip and jump over the river to Birkenhead a few days ago to see the Richard Hamilton exhibition at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum. This was our first time in Birkenhead. Months ago, I was under the impression that it was a quaint suburban area, but I was quickly assured by friends that it was quite the opposite. Visiting it promptly disproved my initial assumptions. Walking to the gallery from the train station, it reminded me much of walking in some of the neighbourhoods in Liverpool, with abandoned buildings, run-down shops and canine fecal matter (we hope!) on the sidewalk. All in all, nothing special. The only part of our walk over that Raspberry really liked was the fact that a street was called Balls Road. “They should call it Testicles Road!” she shrieked gleefully.

The exhibition was just all right. I enjoyed seeing the famous Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, and Raspberry really the rolls of toilet paper painted into a few paintings (um, I’m pretty sure it was toilet paper). She kept trying to spot more in other Hamilton works. I often find exhibitions of famous artists’ works just mediocre, nothing spectacular (I saw a Bruce Nauman exhibition in Preston a few months ago and I didn’t think that much of it either). Perhaps I’m anticipating a lot more and then I end up being disappointed by what’s there. Or maybe my standards for what counts as a good exhibition are just too high. I think I see only two to four fantastic exhibitions a year, works of art that I truly enjoy, resonate with me, and leave me wanting more. I’m not sure if that’s usual, but I don’t think it really matters.

Much of our time at the gallery was spent working on a trail in the gallery, whereby you had to locate pictures of cartoon bees pasted onto various objects (including works of art, like pottery). Galleries seem to like passing off scavenger hunt-esque trails as entertaining activites for kids. Sure, it’s a good way to get kids to see the gallery, but if other kids are anything like mine, they zero in on whatever they have to check off the list, to the exclusion of almost everything else. There was one bee in every room, so we had to tour the entire gallery, even though neither of us cared too much for the paintings or textiles or pottery on display (both our preferences leans toward contemporary or modern art). We went into a room plastered with dark wallpaper, with a knight’s armour, ornate sculptures and a dark wood fireplace carved intricately carved with seemingly terrifying creatures that I couldn’t even bear to look at. “Okay, just find the bee and let’s go. This room is freaking me out,” I mumbled nervously to Raspberry.

At the end of the trail, she took her worksheet back to the desk and the person working there offered her a prize for her efforts — a pencil case, a pencil, a ruler, a sharpener and a keyring. She got to pick out the colours of stationery she wanted but at the end, she decided she didn’t need any of it as she already as all of the above, so she gave it back. I was thoroughly impressed and very proud of her for minimalist ways and not introducing extra clutter into our home that I’d end up donating to a charity shop.

We returned to Liverpool right after (stopping to take some pictures that I didn’t on the way there because Raspberry desperately needed to pee) and I surprised her with lunch at Bakchich, the Lebanese street food restaurant where we had lunch on my birthday. We hadn’t had any lunch food at home all week, and since we hardly eat out, I thought she’d like a treat. I’d initially thought we’d split something, since it was almost 3pm, but it cost the same for us to get a chicken shawarma each, so we did that instead. Raspberry’s shawarma was really leaky and made for some messy eating. She really enjoyed it though (possibly because we eat meat only a handful of times a year), but couldn’t finish the last little bit so we had that to go.

Because it was only mid-afternoon, we went to FACT, as I’ve been wanting to watch more of the Sharon Lockhart video that’s part of the Liverpool Biennial. I only got to watch a bit of it a couple of weeks ago — that’s completely expected when you attempt to watch a video with two kids in tow (or even one, for that matter). I figure that if I go a couple more times, I’ll be able to watch the entire video by the time the exhibition closes at the end of October. Raspberry, who usually jumps off the steps on the second floor, decided to climb and jump off the steps on the other side of the bannister on the first floor instead. It reminded me of the time I was younger than Raspberry, and I climbed up the other side of an escalator at a mall and had to be rescued because the escalator’s rail kept going and I couldn’t. Yeah. But I digress. Usually I’m quite happy to have her exhaust herself running and jumping all over FACT, but we needed to pick up groceries for dinner, so our time there was cut short. Besides, after our small adventure to Birkenhead, I was ready to head home anyway.

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2 responses

  1. qou

    Ah! Love seeing them together. Lil punkins :*

    August 19, 2014 at 4:09 am

  2. :) It’s nice now that Ares is old enough to interact with Raspberry, and get on her nerves, for that matter!

    August 20, 2014 at 9:37 am

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