‘Next Up: Liverpool Art Now’. 12 December 2008 – ENDS SUNDAY 22 February 2009
A group exhibition showcasing 39 artists living and working in the city, Next Up: Liverpool Art Now celebrates the depth of creative talent currently to be found on Merseyside.
As Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture ends, what do the city’s visual artists have to offer in 2009 and beyond?
Featuring painting, drawing, video, photography, sculpture, installation and animation, Next Up presents a diverse range of works by artists with established national and international careers, alongside emerging artists early in their professional practice. For some of them this represents their first significant exhibition. Historically the Bluecoat has always played a key role nurturing new talent, and Next Up reclaims the gallery’s strong ethos of commitment and support to artists at different stages of their career.
This is the first large group exhibition in the Bluecoat’s magnificent new galleries, which are twice the size of the old spaces. Next Up is a more ambitious show than we were able to stage previously. It does not however set out to be an exhaustive survey of the local art scene, nor is it dictated by prize money or a curatorial theme. It aims instead to give viewers a snapshot of artistic activity in the city. As you might expect though, some themes and common interests have emerged. Sounds of the city, its people, Scouse humour and local content are explored, whilst some artists, preoccupied with form, investigate the look and function of line through drawing.
Bryan Biggs, Artistic Director at the Bluecoat comments ‘There’s no doubt that if we were to organise another exhibition like this in two years’ time the resulting exhibition would look and feel completely differently. Such is the wealth of activity in the city’s artistic community. Liverpool, like other urban centres where young artists see moving to London as the only way to further their careers, has struggled to retain its arts graduates. However this seems to be changing as more and more emerging practitioners stay in the city and others from outside are attracted to it. This, and the entrepreneurial spirit of engagement and creative camaraderie across generations of artists evident in several of the city’s artist studio groups, suggests that Liverpool’s art scene has a healthy future.’
One of the most frequent critical concerns that surfaced during the organisation of Next Up was the question of what is a local artist? In Liverpool this year, as the city enjoys its status as European Capital of Culture and attracts audiences from far and wide, the relationship between the periphery and the centre and the question of just where ‘home’ is, have taken on added resonance for artists working here. Artists are an essential ingredient of Liverpool’s ‘cultural capital’, and as we leave 2008 behind and look forward to what’s next up, this exhibition acts as a reflection of the strength of the city’s visual arts right now.
Featuring work by Oliver Braid, Paul Bratt, Pete Clarke, Paul Clarkson, John Davies, Gina Czarnecki, Alan Dunn, Nina Edge, Jemma Egan, Leo Fitzmaurice, Stephen Forge, Emma Gregory, Sean Hawkridge, Lin Holland, Neil Keating, David Jacques, Alison Jones, Brigitte Jurack, Gareth Kemp, Harry Lawson, James Loftus, Brendan Lyons, Nicki McCubbing, Geoff Molyneux, Tabitha Kyoko Moses, Bernadette O’Toole, Richard Proffitt, James Quin, Paul Rooney,
The Singh Twins, Tony Smith, Markus Soukup, Imogen Stidworthy, Nick Sykes, Chiz Turnross, Claire Weetman, Barry Worrall, Kai-Oi Jay Yung
Next Up Discussion events:
During Next Up, the Bluecoat presents a series of discussion events exploring aspects of art in Liverpool. The series continues in February and will be accompanied by publication of Art in a City Revisited (by the Bluecoat and Liverpool University Press), a look at art in Liverpool 40 years on from John Willett’s seminal study, Art in a City.
Wed 14 January 6.00pm
Representatives from artists’ studio groups discuss how they support artistic practice in the city. Speakers include Kevin Hunt (The Royal Standard), Tony Smith (Arena Art & Design Association), Vanessa Bartlett and Josh Tennant (Red Wire).
Wed 21 January 6.00pm
Representatives of commercial galleries assess the market for art in the city and offer valuable insight for artists and collectors. Speakers include Lucy Byrne (dot-art), Ceri Hand (Ceri Hand Gallery) and Sam Skinner (View Two Gallery).
Wed 28 January 6.00pm
Artists take the lead
Artists involved in setting up international dialogue, artists’ exchanges and initiatives beyond the gallery discuss their different approaches. Speakers include Pete Clarke (Eight Days A Week partnership with Cologne) and Lin Holland (Cyfuniad international workshops).