Review: Liverpool Artists Network

Liverpool Artists Network meeting, photo by Tony Knox
Liverpool Artists Network meeting, photo by Tony Knox

Liverpool Artists Network – 19.01.2016
Meeting at Courtroom Café, Crown Building, 57-59 Victoria Street.
Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Photographs by Tony Knox

The day was upon us, finally. Liverpool Artists Network left the internet and met up in the relatively new Courtroom Café. If you’ve not come across the network yet, it’s an open-to-all-who-are-willing network of artists, studios and galleries who want to make something happen. They’re not sure what, they’re not sure when, they’re just sure why.

Liverpool needs a network which strives to promote our own talent. At Art in Liverpool we provide an insight, so that the public can access the ins and outs of what’s happening on their doorstep. Liverpool Artists Network is an engine for action on behalf of the artists. It’s a celebration of the talent that already exists, and a proactive attempt to give that talent more of a voice for themselves. A platform for change, albeit a change in perspective. It is a cognitive catalyst for public perception.

A means to a more conversational ends, developing opportunities for the city and the artists to support each other. A city which hosts the UKs most important Biennial, with more than a handful of creative accolades outside of that. Liverpool should be much more aware of this emerging vehicle; it’s got one hell of a lot to say. It is a vehicle driven by Josie Jenkins, of Arena Studios, and Collette Lilley, of 104 Duke Street Studios, but one that looks like it’s about to develop a massive amount of backseat drivers. This network has been developed in a way I’ve not witnessed in other cities; it’s more accessible; more democratic; it doesn’t have a panel that decides who’s in or out; and it doesn’t have subscriptions. Its online forum means that everyone can have a voice, regardless of their prowess as public speakers.

It still bears all the challenging discomfort of networking, but I can’t imagine a way around that. It is what it is. It’s why it works, and so far, it seems to be embracing that wholeheartedly, listening to itself, and actively making things happen. For example, Road Studios put on a selection of members’ work at the Courtroom Café (ground floor of the Crown Building, Victoria Street) for the night, which is open to the public for the next month. The network’s aim, to promote artists and expose possible exhibition spaces across the city, is visibly at work here. It allows for an icebreaker, but Road Studios have gone a bit further than that really, it’s essentially and open studios that’s left itself open for a month.

Any open studio event is always going to be energetic and packed full of difference, and this is no different, other than the fact it’s on the wall of a café. I like art, I like food, but as a rule I tend to like them separately. In this case, it’s an open studio exhibition of sorts, so it has that energy which legitimises it. There’s a varied selection of work up on the walls, which exhibits the different interests that manifest themselves within Road, but in an odd way, it exhibits the differences that have manifested themselves within Liverpool Artists Network too.

Not necessarily in print and design techniques, but in the genres and the branches of industry touched on. Liverpool Artists Network is seemingly providing that studio environment too, but on a city wide scale. It’s going to be chaos, and it’s going to make some absolutely brilliant things happen.

Liverpool Artists Network meeting, photo by Tony Knox
Liverpool Artists Network meeting, photo by Tony Knox