SOME of Liverpool's most famous watering holes have been given a Parisien makeover - after an artist went on a month long pub crawl.
Stephen Bower swapped pint pots for paint pots. The result … a collection of oil paintings that wouldn’t look out of place in Montmartre.
But look closely and you’ll recognise celebrated boozers like Ye Cracke, The Belvedere, The Vines and Peter Kavanagh’s.
Bower travelled from Devon to brave the Mersey March winds as he worked in the streets with his easel and palette.
Stationed outside the Empress in Dingle – a pub made famous by ex-Beatle Ringo Starr on the cover of his Sentimental Journey album – the landlord ensured a constant supply of hot drinks to fortify the artist on the pavement in North Hill Street.
The fruits of his labours will be displayed at an exhibition the View Two Gallery at 23 Mathew Street, from this Fiday (May 8).
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms
Sheffield-born Bower who lives in Devon, studied at Manchester College of Art, too late to realise he should have picked a course up the East Lancs at Liverpool’s School of Art - the city he fell in love with.
His passion for Liverpool, apart from the city’s architecture, was also helped by a commission he received to paint John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi when she moved to Poole after leaving Mendips in Menlove Avenue. Those works are now in the hands of private collectors.
So why did Bowers make the 270-mile journey to Liverpool to paint pubs.
“I wanted to capture the colour and the vibrancy, and the very souls of the pubs I painted. The best way to do that is to visit each one and paint what I see, there and then. The paintings are my own interpretation of the buildings. I dislike using photographs and prefer to base my colour compositions on direct observations.”
Stephen Bower outside The Empress in the Dingle
Bowers, who describes himself as a colourist, takes his inspiration from Impressionists like Monet and works in oils, built up in successive layers, producing striking and vibrant works.
The View Two exhibition is also a homecoming of sorts. Bowers' artwork made its debut in Liverpool in 1974 at the Northern Young Contemporaries exhibition. Since then it has been shown in places such as Grenoble, Paris, Monaco and across the UK.
The full list of painted pubs are: Peter Kavanagh's The Globe and Coopers on Cases Street, The Roscoe Head, Ye Cracke, The Vines, Central Commercial, The Baltic Fleet, The Crown, Ship and Mitre, White Star, Mathew St Grapes,Midland Hotel, Ma Egertons, Empress, Belvedere, Rigby's and the Lion Tavern. He also painted Christians fruit and veg stall.
*Two Pints of Paint and a Packet of Crisps: Liverpool pubs by Stephen Bower. View Two Gallery, 23 Mathew Street in Liverpool’s Cavern Quarter. Free admission. On view from Friday May 8 noon until 5pm and each Friday and Saturday at the same time until Saturday, July 25, 2015. Other times by arrangement.
The Midland, opposite Central Station
The Lion Tavern. Tithebarn Street