ANTHONY BROWN is a professional artist and musician, but when he talks about the River Mersey he sounds just as worthy of the title "philosopher".
"Liverpool is at its best when it exports its people and imports their deeds," he remarks.
"The docks and the river made Liverpool the extraordinary city it still is today. They were the lifeblood of all Liverpool families and they gave us a connection to the rest of the world.
"People would leave here and travel to new lives in America, where anything seemed possible. When I stand and look at the River Mersey I have the same feeling."
It is Liverpool’s famous waterfront that will inspire Brown’s new project, Living Art – a live studio within construction company Neptune’s Mann Island development.
In an expansive, industrial space on the ground-floor, he will create new work while visitors watch through the floor-to-ceiling windows or from inside the studio itself.
As the space is gradually filled with tenants, the studio will shrink until Brown is eventually left with a small area overlooking the canal basin.
"We just can’t wait to get in there now," he says, standing in his current studio in Liscard, Wirral, which he runs with his wife Lorraine.
"At the moment I’m painting more and I’m probably better than I have ever been. I’m very excited about Mann Island, I feel something fresh is starting."
Depending on lettings, the live studio will be available for up to a year.
It will also be used to exhibit Brown’s completed work, such as pieces from his Capital of Culture series 100 Heads, and will contain a gift shop.
A large screen will show images of Mann Island through history and cameras will record the experience to be edited into a 30-minute film.
For at least two months of his residency, Brown will be creating a new work in the mixed media style of 100 Heads – using documents and photographs as a background for a 6ft x 7ft oil painting of his location.
Architectural drawings of the striking new black buildings will feature in the art work, currently entitled Prelude, and even Will Alsop’s controversial and never built Fourth Grace design for the Mann Island site.
"Rather than paint a picture of the building, I want to paint the life of the building that speaks through people’s memories," he explains.
"I want people to come in and share their stories and submit photographs to be included in the work.
"The painting will combine the old and the new, because that’s what a city like Liverpool is all about."
Brown’s own childhood memories of the waterfront are extremely vivid.