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What to expect from 2017

2017 in brief

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith

A year of anniversaries, archives, discovery and invention. Liverpool is going to be nothing but loud through 2017 where it comes to our art. Bluecoat are celebrating their building’s 300th birthday, while Open Eye turn 40 and Homotopia set themselves up to tell the story of 50 years of legal homosexuality.

The year also looks to build momentum for 2018’s decade of Culture since Liverpool’s time as European Capital of Culture in 2008, and 50 Summers of Love, filling this summer with incredible events celebrating Liverpool’s musical and creative history.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing changes to regular events though, is the new structure of LightNight. In the past, LightNight has been a one-for-all all-for-one sort of thing. Artists and galleries put some stuff on and it got printed in a guide. Now though, there’s a selection process. Hopefully, rather than keeping people out, it will raise the standard, and create a more unified approach to their themes. It’s an exciting move that sums up a lot of the political motivations behind creative shifts in Liverpool at the moment.

By now, we’re all familiar with devolution, the principle that Liverpool will control its own money, but have less of it. Take the good with the bad, and what do you get? Usually a pretty perfect pot for artists to comes together. As a city, we need to pull together more than ever to create new systems that help nurture creative possibilities. That’s what Culture Liverpool are asking us to do for 2018, and Summer of Love. Give what we have to offer and prove that Liverpool has the strength to prove its identity over and over again.


Culture Shifts, while pre-devolution, is a perfect example of Liverpool coming together. It’s already started to be revealed in parts, but as Open Eye turns 40 they’ll be making sure the full scope of this project – involving most organisations on Mersyside – is seen by as many people as possible. A project that uses photography to solidify community identities, and let individuals explore their creativity with some of the best creative talent in the UK to help guide them.

It’s an even busier year than that for Open Eye though, with a massive exhibition series, including NORTH: Identity, Photography, Fashion opening this week. The year will no doubt be full of revelations and focus pieces on the gallery and how they have led a photography renaissance from the back streets to the waterfront, and we can’t wait to write some of them.

Image© Darryl Georgiou 'Harold's Shark, Granby'. Culture Shifts led by Open Eye Gallery with Granby4Streets
Image© Darryl Georgiou
‘Harold’s Shark, Granby’. Culture Shifts led by Open Eye Gallery with Granby4Streets

The other big birthday this year is Bluecoat, with a year-long celebration of the building’s 300 year history, including a new website and archival presentation from local agencies Nonconform and Polymorph. The website, My Bluecoat, hasn’t launched yet, but will support a series of exhibitions in the Vide Space that look to engage gallery visitors with the history of the building, and the future it could hold.

Art at the heart of bluecoat
Art at the heart of bluecoat

Part of that future is a retrospective exhibition looking back at as many of the artists who have exhibited there over the past 50 years, from local artists to the internationally renowned who begun their global careers at Bluecoat before the East Wing’s redevelopment was even a whisper.

Over the next couple of weeks there are exhibitions from Road Studios, Open Eye Gallery, Williamson Art Gallery and International Slavery Museum to mark the entrance of 2017 with loads more to come through the rest of the year, including:








With all that to look forward to, and far more still to be confirmed, we’ve got one confident prediction; you won’t reach the end of 2017 thinking Liverpool has an invisible culture.