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Artist creates public art commission for Bluecoat

Artist creates public art commission with Liverpool young people and adults with learning disabilities for new exhibition

Bluecoat’s new exhibition ‘Resource’ will feature Danish Artist Anne Harild’s new sculpture commission, completed with the help of school children from North Liverpool and adults with learning disabilities.

Danish artist Harild spent ten weeks in residence at Bluecoat, leading a series of workshops with participants of two of Bluecoat’s regular engagement projects: Blue Room – a weekly programme for artists with learning disabilities, and Out of the Blue – weekly art clubs for children in Anfield, Everton, Granby, Norris Green and Walton. During school holidays the young members from the Out of the Blue clubs come to the Bluecoat for activities, often working alongside Blue Room.

Together they explored the architecture of the Bluecoat building, new and old, and created their own models and drawings. The ideas generated have directly inspired Anne Harild’s public artwork, which will be installed in Bluecoat’s front courtyard until late autumn.

Harild embarked on the commission in February after being awarded the 2015 Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award Artist Residency managed by engage, the National Association for Gallery Education.

ARMA was established in memory of the artist Alexandra Reinhardt who died in 2004 aged 43, having battled with a rare blood disorder and deafness throughout her life.

Specially selected works by Alexandra Reinhardt will also be on display in the Bluecoat’s upper balcony. The award is funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust and offers artists the opportunity to create an original work for a host venue, while generating ways for the artist and venue to interact with the local community. engage, the National Association for Gallery Education has been delighted to manage the award since 2012, which has led to commissions by Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva for mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; Maria Zahle for New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, and this year’s commission by Anne Harild for the Bluecoat.

young participants assist with the bluecoat's ARMA commission
young participants assist with the bluecoat’s ARMA commission

Anne Harild said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with everyone at the Bluecoat, it’s been a real pleasure. During a series of process-led workshops, we uncovered and explored the fabric and history of the Bluecoat and created work in response to our findings. My work is a direct response to the work generated in the workshops and the shapes, textures and visual language of the work are informed by the architecture of the Bluecoat building. The original idea for the workshops, of handing over building blocks to the participants and representing a series of voices or views, is expressed through the 8 different arches that focus on translations of the architectural environment.

The work is a passage or series of structures that arch over the main path in the Bluecoat front courtyard, monumental in scale but welcoming, an invitation into the gallery. The work can be seen as a resource for the building, opening up new perspectives and uncovering previously unnoticed aspects, drawing people into the surroundings to both move through and around the Bluecoat courtyard and to experience and interpret the language of that space.

young participants assist with the bluecoat's ARMA commission
young participants assist with the bluecoat’s ARMA commission

Bec Fearon, Head of Engagement at Bluecoat said: “We are delighted to be hosting the award. Anne has created something truly exceptional for our front courtyard space. We are particularly inspired by her idea to use details within the building’s architecture as the starting point for workshops. It’s such a landmark building and this will encourage people to look at it more closely.”

Veronica Reinhardt, Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust and a member of the selection panel for the Award said: One of the challenges of the ARMA award is to fully integrate the experience of working with young people in the community while not compromising the artistic vision of the final commissioned piece of art for the museum or gallery. Anne Harild has fully embraced this idea and her work resonates with drawings and sculptures from her workshops with both children and adults with learning disabilities, while at the same time expressing her own creativity and exploration of the Bluecoat building as it reaches its 300th anniversary. The Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust is delighted that Anne has so successfully delivered an ambitious project, which we hope will have lasting impact at Bluecoat.