Archiving The Arts Centre – The Bluecoat, by Kayleigh Davies

kayleighThe Bluecoat is currently showcasing its fascinating history through a proud display of posters, catalogues, objects, events and art works, a diverse show that will only be lasting until 5 May.

Within the show, If Only, a  Liverpool based performance group are currently hosting events such as ‘What Does Art Need?’ a unique form of participation that allows the public to give their honest opinion on what they think the arts in Liverpool and as a whole require in modern times.

Including eight different screens on loop displayed downstairs, and various display cases to visually feast upon, the show is worth taking a little extra time for to allow yourself to stop and take in the variety of treasures on display. Although perhaps it is the scale of the archival showcase that proves the point, the Bluecoat has so much to offer in every form that one visit will never be enough and therefore remain a firm favourite for visitors and locals. Since the very beginning The Bluecoat has engaged, challenged and evolved with society and continued to excel.

The Vide also hosts a hidden treasure with a modest display on the history of the Blue Room; an award-winning programme for people with learning disabilities, currently run by Laura Pilgrim (Participation Co-ordinator) that creates artistic responses to the exhibitions on show. Perhaps hidden information for many, Participation at The Bluecoat is a constant, giving pulse within the arts in Liverpool and deserves as much recognition as the centre itself.

It is perhaps a wonder that these things are not more widely appreciated, with an Archive worthy of international attention: names with surprising resonance echo throughout The Bluecoat, with a history including Picasso, Cezanne, Barbara Kruger and many more talented artists that have walked the steps of the building, or been displayed within the premises.

Available to view are unique, fragile ephemera dating back to the Sandon Studios; catalogues and posters that may never be displayed again in the same way. The objects allowing the public a peek at the authenticity of The Bluecoat’s history prove their worth and cause many viewers to stop in their tracks to realise the wealth of untapped stories behind the obvious.

Let us not forget how lucky we are as a city to play host to such a special, Grade II listed building and take this opportunity to reveal the extent of the glorious history within the oldest arts centre in the country.



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