Frank Green is into his sixth decade of painting Liverpool townscapes and continues to draw and paint this subject that has always intrigued and fascinated him.
Born in the small village of Chirbury in Shropshire during the Blitz, Frank was brought up in the Liverpool district of Walton and attended Florence Melly Primary School. Whilst at Evered High School, Frank’s interest in drawing and painting was encouraged by Tom Sherwen his then art teacher and after a stint as an office clerk for an accountancy firm, he followed his dream of becoming an artist.
Frank enrolled at the Liverpool College of Art, 68 Hope Street (now sold-off) in 1960 and enjoyed five productive years there. On graduating, he was recommended for the Liverpool City Travelling Scholarship by the Head of Fine Art, Charles Burton. He gratefully accepted the award and set off for Amalfi, Italy which would turn out to be the first of two formative trips to that country. The second was to Umbria in an old Liverpool Corporation ambulance that he and fellow artist, Richard Wash, borrowed from some friends.
Earning a living as a bus conductor in the early 1970s, Frank witnessed the mass demolition work going on in areas such as Everton and Kirkdale. He realised that, in order to keep up with the bulldozers, he would have to start painting soon and quickly. He left his job and set about recording what remained of those districts before they vanished forever.
In the foreword to his 1975 Liverpool Academy Exhibition Catalogue Frank wrote: ‘Early in the 1970’s I began a series of drawings of Aubrey Street and the Everton Water Tower, St Chrysostom’s Church and the surrounding streets which were rapidly being demolished. The obvious bulbous shape of the Everton Water Tower dominated the first picture, but later I noticed the richness and variety of the less imposing buildings with their intricate use of different coloured brick to enliven their facades’.
‘Shops, churches, pubs and clubs in abundance, this was an area with a wide choice of facilities. Whilst realising that many streets were beyond repair, the remainder could have provided a marvelous framework on which to revitalise the district. Almost none of the buildings have been spared, nor has sufficient thought been given to rehousing the people’.
The bulk of Frank’s work over the past thirty years has been executed in watercolour, but he also works extensively in oil, pencil, chalk and pastelle, acrylic, and pen & ink. His etchings of St Andrew’s Church, Rodney Street and Daniel Street, Everton have also been replicated in watercolour.
Working initially in oil to benefit from the depth of colour these paints offered, Frank soon realised he would need to change his approach as he couldn’t keep up with his disappearing subject matter.
He then turned to pastelle & conté crayon and charcoal as the speed and flexibility these media offered were more suited to capturing images at speed. These pigments in powder form worked well as they had a saturation and richness to them that was akin to that of the oil paints. And they had further appeal as they physically reflected the dust and rubble to which the place had been reduced. Frank also captured much of the of the demolition on an 8mm ciné camera.
List of Frank Green’s one man Exhibitions
2015 ‘The Art of Frank Green’, St.George’s Hall, Liverpool July-August
2015 ‘Frank Green and the Welsh Builders of Liverpool’, Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw January-March
2011 ‘Frank Green’s Liverpool’ Liverpool Academy of Arts, Seel Street, Liverpool February-April
2005 ‘From Liverpool to Italy and back’ Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead
1981 Dale Hall, Liverpool University Hall of Residence
1978 Senate House, Liverpool University
1976 ‘Everton Demolished’ Bluecoat Chambers, Liverpool
1975 Liverpool Academy, Renshaw Street, Liverpool
1972 Chamelion Gallery, Seel Street Joint Exhibitions
1971 Nicholas Horsfield and Frank Green, Bluecoat Chambers
1969 ‘Italian Paintings’ Frank Green and Richard Wash
2015 Frank is this year’s recipient of the Merseyside Civic Society David Stewart Awards which is an award “given to recognise of outstanding long-term personal contributions by exceptional individuals in promoting and protecting the City Region’s heritage.”
1964 Liverpool City Travelling Scholarship