• Williamson Open 2018
  • Rose Mairs with her prize winning photograph

About the Artist/Exhibition


An open exhibition has been part of the local art scene for as long as most of us can remember. The Williamson Open aims to reflect part of the active  current visual arts scene in Wirral. 

Detail of Studio Table (Red Sun) by Dennis Spicer

Detail of Studio Table (Red Sun) by Dennis Spicer

The Open Exhibition arrives each Spring and brings with it reflections on the year past and expectations for the year ahead. 2018 is no exception and it is significant in the Williamson’s history as December marks the 90th anniversary of the gallery’s opening.

One of the exhibitions at Birkenhead’s first Museum and Art Gallery in 1913 was the Birkenhead Spring exhibition open to local artists, amateur and professional alike, to enter work on an equal footing and from that event some of the earliest pictures in the gallery’s collection were selected. The present exhibition is run on the same footing and following that tradition but now also open to photographers as well as to artists in paint, pencil, collage, print, textiles, digital media, ceramics and various materials for sculpture. Each year we acquire from the exhibition to reflect work that is on-going in Wirral and in 2018 we have two worthy winners in Janine Pinion and Dennis Spicer: artists who have served their time on the local art scene as both teachers and exhibitors and it is fitting that these excellent works by them should become part of Wirral’s art collection for the future. These are pictures that fit into our collection, stretching the traditions of painting in oil and watercolour into the 21st century. 

PINION Night - Marine Lake

Janine Pinion Night – Marine Lake

On the other hand, our photographic prizewinner this year is young but still very talented: Rose Mair’s photographs have shown promise for some time and she has produced an apparently simple but very sensitive image whose intensity draws your attention back to it.

The future of the gallery and the collection here, which has been built for decades, are still not quite secure. There is a range of positive indications which gives us hope and the popularity of this exhibition, both the artists submitting work and visitors coming through the door, is a sure sign that we are doing something right. Without that popular support we have nowhere to go and I thank you all, artists and visitors alike, for keeping our enthusiasm fired up. The Williamson & Priory Friends are a constant source of support, and thanks go to them for funding the Photographic Prize.

Do think about voting in the Kriterion Prize for your favourite exhibit – last year, for the first time ever, the exhibition’s prizewinner Mark Moynihan was also the popular prizewinner. We shall see what emerges in 2018. And do think about buying work by a real artist, often less expensive than buying a mass-produced print. But please, just enjoy the fruits of so many hours put in by so many people purely for the pleasure of doing the work.”

Rose Mairs Strong is an Understatement

Rose Mairs Strong is an Understatement

Colin Simpson
Principal Museums Officer

The exhibition is open to artists/photographers who have connections with Wirral through birth, education, residency or occupation


Friday 23rd March – Sunday 6th May 2018

Wednesday – Sunday 10.00a.m. – 5.00p.m.


Collection of any work must be accompanied by the appropriate paperwork and possible I.D. If someone is collecting your work on your behalf, please make sure they have the correct paperwork; otherwise work may not be returned.

The Williamson Open private view and prizes are supported by Williamson & Priory Friends

The galleries are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, but staff shortages may necessitate early closure of some rooms at the end of the day.

Download the latest newsletter to find out more about forthcoming exhibitions, also consider joining our supporting charity, Williamson and Priory friends.


Dates : 23 March - 6 May 2018
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