Art in Liverpool Magazine: Issue #7, August 2018 – Editorial

#Tunstall30, Ali Harwood. image. c. Tony Knox

There’s a little way to go until we’re out of July, but we thought with so much happening mid-month it would be utterly unfair of us to keep it to ourselves until August.

On the 14th, Liverpool Biennial & Independents Biennial launched to the world, alongside Bloomberg New Contemporaries and the John Moores Painting Prize. Four of the UKs most significant festivals and exhibitions coming to one city, all at once. But it’s how the four work together that makes it worth seeing; worth getting on a train from the other side of the country to see a city at its absolute best.

Liverpool Biennial

A festival of international contemporary art, drawing on the best and most relevant artistic talent of the day from around the world, at Tate Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery, RIBA North, Bluecoat, FACT, The Playhouse, St George’s Hall, VG&M,LJMU, Blackburne House, The Oratory, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Granby, Invisible Wind Factory, Exchange Flags, Great George Street, and Online.

Independents Biennial

Artists from the North West of England, making a name for themselves with international audiences, visiting the city for the four months of Liverpool Biennial. Exploring how local creatives understand their surroundings, and sharing the true voice of this wonderful place, in over 75 venues around the entire Liverpool City Region.

John Moores Painting Prize

The UKs most established, and most important painting prize, now in its 60th year, continues to discover household names of tomorrow, and create careers for artists based on nothing other than talent, through various stages of blind judging, at Walker Art Gallery.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries

A selection of the UKs most promising early career artists, from every town, city and village that make up the creative islands. New Contemporaries is an absolute must see for anybody wanting to understand the shape of the arts, now and in the future. The exhibition runs until September at LJMU’s John Lennon Art & Design Building.

We’re biased though. We run the Independents Biennial, celebrating 75 incredible venues, fostering over 250 new works, and (on average) just over 2 events every day until the 28th October 2018. There really isn’t an excuse to miss it, and the spaces currently occupied by artists are all entirely unique.

St John’s Market provides internationally significant art with audiences who would never have the chance to see it. George Henry Lee’s has been given a new start with nearly 80 artists taking over one of the most iconic buildings in the North West. Bridewell Studios hosts a continuing exhibition programme in one of Liverpool’s most intriguing spaces, while the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum in Birkenhead hosts more exhibitions than any other venue for Independents Biennial 2018.

There’s a new shape to the festival, one that embraces its neighbours, its geography, and the cultural backbone of a region that produces great art every day, and for Art in Liverpool it’s been a huge privilege to be at the centre of production and build a new beginning for a festival that deserves to rediscover its strengths.

The beauty of this festival is summed up in no greater way than what has just happened while writing this. Sat on the top deck of my, now regular, rail replacement bus service, travelling at a snail’s pace down Smithdown Road, I’ve passed one of our core trails within the festival. #Tunstall30, an exhibition of poems and posters by Ali Harwood, sits proudly on a monolithic blue hoarding, covering 30 houses along an entire stretch of street.

It’s impossible to cross the city without coming face to face with Independents Biennial in some way. A festival built by artists, councillors, galleries, networks, translators, writers, musicians, performers, developers, fundraisers, directors, marketers, coordinators, and normal human beings. Independents Biennial is part of a network of people who have come together at the start of something new, and it runs alongside Liverpool Biennial, John Moores Painting Prize and New Contemporaries until 28th October 2018.