Leading city architect Ken Martin sells up and moves on

IT'S a final reminder of a time when Mathew Street was defined by something other than Jagerbombs, bouncers and Beatles. In its own small way, a relic of of a quieter, more considered culture.

Liverpool independent art gallery View Two is closing its doors for good as its owner, leading city architect Ken Martin, decides it's time to move on to pastures new.

The one-time head of architecture at Liverpool Polytechnic, now Liverpool John Moores University, has sold the building, which also houses the chintzy Afternoon Tea cafe. He remains coy about the new owner and their intentions, saying only that they have "exciting plans" for the one-time banana warehouse.

Before then, he will curate and star in his own greatest hits finale, a "Last Picture Show"  which opens later this week. It will feature his biggest ever exhibition of paintings and drawings alongside works by his favourite artists from over the years since 1990 when he opened the View gallery in another of his properties, Hanover Street's Gostin Building, before moving to View Two.

20170508 Ken Martin
Owner, artist and architect Ken Martin is hitting the road

And while View Two will still have a presence online, Martin, now in his 70s, leaves a legacy of visible works across Merseyside, from his time as a working architect. The frontage of the Liverpool Playhouse in Williamson Square: that was him;  the recent remodelling of Floral Pavilion in New Brighton: that too.

Martin will also be remembered as the man who helped to save the Albert Dock complex from total demolition in the 1970s with a scheme to convert the abandoned dock system into a single-site campus for the Liverpool Polytechnic. His idea was never realised, but the delays caused by his ambitious project held back the bulldozers permanently. 

View Two never sought or received any grants, but existed on the energy and patronage of Martin, helped by a small team of art and music enthusiasts with regular low-key music nights high above the 21st century madness of Mathew Street.

It gave a “shop window” to established artists as well as hundreds more with only aspirations. 

Born in Accrington, Martin spent most of his adult life teaching architecture. One of his students, Ian Simpson, designed Manchester’s Beetham Tower.

“I will leave View Two with many happy memories. I like Liverpool very much, but now I live in Cumbria and it’s a long journey coming back and too. We have staged many exhibitions over the years, and also many music nights.

“The beauty of View Two is that we have been able to stage exhibitions, often at short notice. There have been no committees, or two-year lead in periods.  We were able, not so long ago, to accommodate at very short notice a team from China who converted the whole gallery into an emperor’s palace. It was so magical.

“It’s a good time and the right time for me to move on, do some travelling and explore the world. Of course I will miss Liverpool and the many friends I have made over the years.”

The Last Picture Show at View Two, 23 Mathew Street, L2, curated by Ken Martin and Bob Williams, features works by Ken Martin, Matt Wilde, Richard Meaghen, Anthony Smith, Jo Hesketh, Pete Clarke, Steven Bower, James Cummings, Sheila Turner, Mike Rowan, Anne Young, Trevor Skempton and more.

Private Viewing Thursday, May 11, 6pm. Open Fridays and Saturdays, noon until 5pm, until June 24, 2017, and at other times by appointment. Further details here