Art in Liverpool Magazine, issue #11: January 2019 Editorial

by Huw Lewis-Jones, on display as part of Welsh Landscapes at dot-art until 2nd March 2019

This time last year, we were starting to phone our first round of advertisers, and costing up printers around the region. Today, we’re going to print with our twelfth issue, having, I hope, made it very clear that Art in Liverpool is here in equal measure, for our readers, and the artists of the city region.

In no way was the task of keeping the magazine afloat easy, it’s been tough at the best of times, but always enjoyable, and the feedback from artists, galleries and readers, as well as the cafes where they’re most often read, has made it worth it.

There was something though that didn’t quite add up. In the fifteen years that Art in Liverpool has existed online, it has made a point of working evenly with artists and galleries, big and small. Our events listings have always been free. The news and reviews section work with artists at every level of their career to give a clear insight into the landscape of visual art in the region. And we’ve never charged a penny for any of it.

The magazine, as print tends to do, costs money, and that has been covered by the generosity and support of advertisers, well beyond their concrete or financial contributions to the paper. This has though, created one of the most important bits of feedback – where festivals and galleries can afford to promote their services artists, as individuals, have been priced out of the ad space.

So we’ve changed it up a bit. From this issue onwards, we are hoping that a classifieds page will fill that void, exclusively available to artists, makers and small groups of creative people to promote what they do – whether that’s selling their work, or teaching others, it reaches more people that the text listings and gives them space to curate their own thoughts. So as a reader, I would strongly urge you to browse the classifieds, where you’ll find exclusively local artists sharing their own news.

Serendipity has played a big part in how these issues have been curated too, with themes emerging naturally through the events of the city. This month, while we put our heads down and worked out how to level the playing field in our pages, Bluecoat, dot-art, Kirkby Gallery and Bluecoat Display Centre have all had similar focusses.

At Bluecoat, perhaps the most powerful in this respect, is the Art Schools of North West England, an exhibition of information, more a statement from the gallery than anything else, on the lack of real and valuable creative opportunities to those artists not afforded the luxury of opportunity on their doorstep. Where at the Display Centre, artists at all stages of their career are merged together under one title, one price tag and one goal; to celebrate sixty years of one of the most supportive and developmental galleries in the city to artists’ careers.

Kirkby Gallery’s Open, which opens in a couple of weeks, is one of the first examples I’ve seen in a long time, of an open exhibition giving more than just wall space to their entrants. I’ll not go into much detail here, but there’s an article focussing on their new approach to the Open later on. And at dot-art, the focus is on three artists making work that indulges local history and regional pride looking at the Welsh landscape on our doorstep.

There is a lot to be said for keeping art local, and it doesn’t work by itself. It needs the infrastructure of internationally significant events, feeds off them even. Liverpool Biennial being one of the best examples, where events like Independents Biennial happen alongside them, or last year’s exhibitions and installations alongside Tall Ships. When you dig deeper into those huge events though, some of the most beneficial things are from the local artists, working with local communities, whose work might be small, and unseen, but whose comment is worth a thousand Giants.