Lucian Freud: Tate Liverpool

Exhibition Joy

Lucian Freud at Tate Liverpool is the exhibition I’ve wanted to see for a long time. Here are some of my thoughts and observations.

“I think they’re sort of humorous” one man said in a thick Scouse accent. Another joined in, “yes, they’re almost cartoon like. But they make me feel a little sad”, followed by, “I like this one, this one not so much”. I listened in on a family making their way around the new Lucian Freud exhibition at Tate Liverpool with huge satisfaction. Although in part I take great joy in eavesdropping, hearing people talk about art they loved, hated and questioned was joyous. It is something I realise I hadn’t heard in the last two years or more.

The Etching Room

Today was the first time in an exhibition for over two years, and during our visit we stayed for two hours. Enjoying hearing the conversations was one thing, but to see paintings in the flesh that you’ve admired since you were at school was something altogether different. Although I realise now we did the exhibition backwards, meandering around meant it wasn’t busy and we could take our time.

Head And Shoulders of a Girl

The works were on sheets of Somerset, just smaller than A1. The paper was velvet white, but where the printing plate had sat, it marked the paper silver grey. The etchings marked out in unscrupulous details the lines and folds of skin of the sitters. They were unforgiving, unflattering, which made them all the more real. One piece in particular, Head and Shoulders of a Girl, was an etching I’d studied at school, so I sat and drew it for a while in a quiet corner of the gallery. Thankfully, no one stopped to look and I was left to my drawing. 

The paintings were thinner than I was expecting. I was expecting paint piled high on the canvas, but instead the paintings were thinner, translucent in some places. Like skin. My favourite piece was Girl in Striped Nightshirt, another piece I’d studied at school. It was smaller than most of the human sized pieces in the gallery. Sensitive, intimate and small. I drew this painting too, thinking back to filling my sketchbook up in school, hoping to go to university. And what after? I wasn’t sure but I knew I loved whatever this was.

Thank you for reading! India x


I graduated from Newcastle University in 2018, with a degree in Fine Art. I went on to train as a weaver in Orkney, and now teach weaving workshops at Orkney Creative Hub. I am a painter and have my own business, The Orkney Cloth Company.

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