Curious artists create cabinet of artworks for Liverpool Biennial.

An exhibition of curious artworks and objects opens at The Albert Dock, Liverpool on 11 September 2014.  Markmakers artist collective bring their show 'Cabinets of Curiosity' to the city as part of the Liverpool Independents Biennial following its successful premiere at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery earlier in 2014.

Markmakers art collective are based in Halton and in 2013 were invited to explore the ethnography collection of intriguing objects at Warrington Museum.  Artists are typically curious about the world around them so sources of inspiration from fake mermaids to willow patterned plates, a child mummy to gas masks have resulted in an eclectic collection of new sculptures, drawings, prints and paintings.

Cabinets of Curiosity takes place at  the unique cultural setting of the Albert Dock's Colonnades during  The Liverpool Independents Biennial which runs alongside the 8th Liverpool Biennial exhibition  A Needle Walks in to a Haystack, and provides the opportunity for Markmakers to showcase their work to the international audience the Biennial attracts.    Running for just under 2 weeks, this is a great opportunity to wonder at both the traditional historic objects in our museum collections and at how the artists evoked new meaning in the creation of their works.

This method of responding to places and objects is typical for Markmakers, artist Jacqui Chapman explained 'when the Markmakers group was invited to explore the ethnography collection at Warrington Museum, with a view to creating new work in response to the objects, a sense of anticipation and excitement was palpable.  Collections within museums have long fascinated artists, particularly the early format of Wunderkammers in Renaissance Europe, which is where our exhibition title comes from.'

Cliff Richards

Maori facial mask

I was taken by how many representations of faces and masks were in the collection. I was particularly intrigued by the Maori tattooed facial cast.

The facial marking conveyed a meaning to the wearer and to his viewers. Powerful men had individual designs which expressed importance. The facial marking elevated the man, increased his pride, his power and his attraction. Both his fearful fierceness and his manly attractiveness were enhanced.

Women were excluded from this ritual.

Slaves were excluded from this ritual.

I was drawn to and fascinated by the beauty of the Maori face.The notion of transformational change occurring by scarring and chiselling a surface.

Thus a being could be permanently transfigured.

The obsolete chicken brick was received from disposal and transformed from an object with no purpose or future to and object of power and ritual by the same process.Images of our most powerful have been enhanced by facial marking. Masks are available for you temporarily become transformed, to become powerful and attractive.


Carysanne uses dolls - bald baby, soft-bodied with plastic limbs, ceramic headed sand dolls - especially used, abandoned ones, which find her by serendipity. She feels they come to her to have their story remade and revealed. Other toys and teddies are reformed with a variety of mixed media in the same way. 

Having studied the collections at Warrington museum, I initially found myself drawn to the Feejee mermaids, their odd mummified scorched skins and the interesting story that in fact they were not mermaids at all.  Exploring this mix of joining and disassemble I found that by playing with my materials that my work took on other influences and I became interested in the mummies insides and outsides and particularly liked the x-ray’s of the cat. 

 Susan Meyerhoff Sharple

HYBRID series

Created during the 21st century, the age when: science is developing at an incredible pace, genetics are being modified for a more productive food source and breeds are being crossed at a whim for designer pets, this body of work has allowed Susan Meyerhoff Sharples to reflect, and to focus on preoccupations of evolutionary processes which have been inherent in her work for a long time.

She has produced this new series in response to the Ethnology collections found in World Museum Liverpool and Warrington Museum.  Inspiration was drawn from the curios collections of mythological beings of part man, part creature that appear in the folklore of many cultures world-wide.

More specifically these were found in Egyptian tomb drawings and funeral figures depicting deities. Mermaids from Japan also influenced her work, contrived skeletal forms, curiosities intended to deceive the Victorians at a time when the Darwinian theories regarding the origin of the species were new and controversial. 

Viewed from a playful perspective, she explores the possibilities of the evolution of such cross-breeds and mutations in a three dimensional form.

Her sculptures have been realised through copper fabrication, metal casting and silver electro-plating.