Harold Offeh, Babak Ganjei and Sumuyya Khader are among artists selected to create site specific artworks as part of Bluecoat’s Hub development, demonstrating the arts centre’s commitment to have artists’ work woven into the fabric of the building.
The artists commissions are part of a scheme to redevelop Bluecoat’s entrance space (known as The Hub) to create a more welcoming and easy to navigate visitor experience. The scheme for the Grade I building has been developed by Architectural Emporium, a Liverpool based practice, in partnership with the Bluecoat team.
The artists were selected through a steering group including artist advisor Frances Disley and Bluecoat’s Senior Curator Adam Lewis-Smythe.
Cambridge-based artist Harold Offeh has been commissioned to create an area specifically for children and families in the Hub space. Offeh uses a range of media including performance, video, photography and collaborative arts practice, and uses humour to explore histories and themes of gender, politics, race and class. Offeh has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including Tate Britain and Tate Modern, South London Gallery, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Wysing Art Centre, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, MAC VAL, France, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark and Art Tower Mito, Japan.
London-based Babak Ganjei has produced three artworks, printed on tiles which wrap around our new Information desk. Ganjei uses comedy as a way of reflecting on art, his ambitions and the absurdity of daily life. In 2014, he famously sold twigs from his local park upon the realisation that his neighbourhood had suddenly become affluent and desirable. He has made short films for Channel 4’s random acts, hosts a radio show on NTS and has made a documentary and series for BBC radio 4 in which his teenage son attempts to fix his father’s, and listeners, problems.
Liverpool based Sumuyya Khader is an artist and illustrator and has created a bespoke tile design linking the building and the much-loved Bluecoat Garden. Khader recently set up Granby Press, a community-based organisation with a focus on printed material and design. She exhibited in Bluecoat’s 2017 group exhibition, In the Peaceful Dome, was commissioned to produce a set of one-off posters for a series of exhibitions at Bluecoat in the winter of 2019, and organised an exhibition of Black artists from Liverpool on the exterior of our building in 2020.
Bluecoat Senior Curator Adam Lewis-Smythe said: ‘We really want visitors to experience artworks the minute they step into Bluecoat. The commissions offer an encounter with art beyond the gallery, in places that we might not normally expect to see artworks. We selected artists that offer something beautiful, thought-provoking and welcoming to our visitors. Each artist brings something unique to our new interior, but each share our ambition to bring people closer to art and artists. In a building full of artists working in their studios, in workshops and in our galleries, it feels entirely fitting to embed the work of artists into the fabric of our building.’
In addition to the artists’ commissions there will be a display in the Hub that brings to the fore some of the activities that go on in the building, that visitors don’t necessarily see. The exhibition will reveal the work we do in our participation projects, artists we work with and behind the scenes initiatives.
The project is funded by Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).