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Artist Hosts get to work on presenting the inner workings of northern culture

Independents Biennial has commissioned four Artist Hosts to work on new ways of documenting festival outcomes, and festival methods. The project aims to lift the mask of visual arts production, and share the reality of artists as humans – often flawed, and with clashing opinions.

Matt Retallick, a curator with long held ties to Merseyside, and has recently moved to Liverpool himself, has launched a new body of research starting with the other artists commissioned for 2021’s hybrid print & digital festival. The questions focus on how significant the identity of Liverpool is on their practice. You can follow his work here, including research questionnaires filled out in advance of the programme’s launch this weekend.

Harriet Burns, is keeping a running diary of her reflections on the programme’s development (or stagnation, depending on where it ends up), which is updated in real time on the festival’s website here. The development of her own practice is at the centre of this project, and will continue to inform the visual output; including in text.

Elizabeth Challinor, curator of Orbit, a perpetual digital residency for artists running on Instagram since 2018, will be in conversation with the festival’s other commissioned artists, including those selected by Metal Liverpool & Open Eye Gallery. Her focus is on revealing the challenges faced by the artists in the lead up to this festival – including the stresses and challenges of postponement, and working inside ever changing goal posts. Follow this project here

And Jo Mary Watson, an emerging writer and creator from Hamburg, is working with Independents Biennial artists within the framework of her practice, which is usually concerned with mental health issues and finding the strength in healing, motherhood, people she has known and moments she has experienced, actual and imaginary. As well as developing documentary work alongside the festival team, she will be working in collaboration with her daughter to create a new body of self-reflective work. Find out more here

These are the only four artists commissioned by the festival not to be included in the Newspaper Gallery circulating supermarkets in Merseyside from Saturday 20th March. Their work will be available entirely online, with some available for the public to comment on and suggest edits throughout the process in a public Google Drive folder here.

Fine the full programme for Independents Biennial 2021 online at