The Art Football season launches in Liverpool alongside the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Art of Football Credit Tom Wood

THE Beautiful Game is to be celebrated with a special season showcasing how football is one of the world’s biggest and most unifying conversations.

Coinciding with the greatest footballing event across the globe, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, The Art of Football will see Liverpool host three major exhibitions, a symposium, pop-up cinema, a music festival as well as stage a call out for community groups to take part in a football parade with a difference – all in celebration of the creative culture and social fabric which underpins football.

Taking place from Thursday 15 June to Sunday 15 July, the programme includes:

Common Ground
14 June – 15 July
Albert Dock Colonnades, Free exhibition
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday10am – 5pm
This exhibition seeks to explore the ritualistic behaviour of football fan culture and its development from the game of the working class in the 1980s to the riches of the Premier League today. Curated by Foto Octo, it captures the work of three photographers across different decades and offers a unique insight into how the community has evolved alongside the might of the now multi-million pound football industry. The photographers are Tom Wood whose retrospective spans 40 years, Ken Grant who has been capturing football inspired images since he was a teenager and Tabitha Jussa who examines what it means to be a football supporter in Liverpool.

The Art of the Football Shirt
14 June – 28 June
Camp & Furnace, Free exhibition
Opening times: One hour before kick off on all World Cup match days
Curated by fashion historian Neal Heard, The Art of the Football Shirt explores the relationship between football and popular culture. Showcasing a curated selection of over 100 sartorially sound, obscure and vintage football shirts, it will show how team kits of previous generations have gained iconic status and how they have crossed paths with the worlds of music, fashion and politics. In the exhibition, Heard shares his vast knowledge, passion and enthusiasm to tell a story that goes beyond the realms of the beautiful game.

I Don’t Love Soccer Because Soccer Has Never Loved Me
29 June to 15 July
Camp & Furnace, Free exhibition
Opening times: One hour before kick off on all World Cup match days
This work takes a critical look at “the beautiful game” through the lens of graphic design and illustration.  The exhibition presents artwork from an international selection of graphic artists made in response to an essay entitled The World Cup and Its Pomps written in 1978 by the famous Italian semiotician, intellectual and writer, Umberto Eco. Produced by Liverpool John Moore University’s Liverpool School of Art & Design, confirmed artists include world renowned designer and typographer Jonathan Barnbrook (David Bowie’s Blackstar and Damien Hirst publication I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life…), Brendan Dawes (digital artist and designer who has work in the permanent collection at MoMA, NY) and Kat Gibb (long time Chemical Brothers collaborator).

Terrace Tapestries
Workshop dates: 12 and 19 May, from 10am at The Florrie
Parade date: 14 June
City centre and the Martin Luther King Building
The launch event for The Art of Football Season, this project will draw on the longstanding, international tradition of banners at football matches as a vehicle for collective expression. Long established and revered Liverpool banner artist Peter Carney will lead this large scale project, working with residents, community organisations and schools across the city to design and produce a series of new banner artworks. Each of the 32 participating World Cup nations drawn will be represented, and a series of workshops will take place to produce the banner artworks, showcasing the world in one city.

Working with a team of illustrators and designers, the artworks will be presented as part of a large parade through the city, to mark the start of the Art of Football project and the 2018 World Cup. The banners will then go on display at National Museum Liverpool’s Martin Luther King building in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, for the duration of the World Cup.

Any community groups interested in taking part in the workshops should email: 

Soccerama Symposium
12 and 13 July, 7pm
Liverpool Central Library, ticketed event
Featuring guests from across the world of football, media and academia and hosted across two evenings at Liverpool Central Library, Soccerama is a symposium to explore football through a new lens. Via a series of conversations and debates, it will unpick football’s interwoven relationship with the key global debates of our times; women’s rights, nationalist populism, LGBTQ, consumer culture, class politics and race. Thursday 12 July will be dedicated to the topic ‘Football: The not-so beautiful game’ and Friday 13 will be ‘From outside the box’. Panelists and contributors will be announced soon.

Disco Sócrates
30 June
Constellations, £10 ticket
In honour of the ultimate anti-footballer, socio-political activist and godfather of football cool, Disco Socrates is an exploration of music culture and its social and political impact around the globe. Anchored around a one-day festival, it will see live performances from artists drawn from the participating World Cup nations, reflecting the power of musical movements to affect change around the globe.

The international line-up includes Nigerian born, Berlin based soulful jazz vocalist Wayne SnowOko Ebombo who fuses beats, Parisian jazz and performance art, Cairo’s Rozzma will bring his own blend of beats, psychedelia and traditional Arabic music and Iranian MC Gomnam.

Green Screen Community Cinema
Prenton Park – 1 July
Isla Gladstone (Stanley Park) – 9 July
Free event
This project will see a series of pop-up cinema screenings take place at the heart of the communities which can be found in the modern game’s backdrop. Featuring radical and challenging football cinema and documentaries, the project is designed to explore and showcase alternative interpretations, debates and ideas around football. The cinema will be set within the grounds of the Isla Gladstone in Stanley Park – flanked by Goodison and Anfield – and Tranmere’s Prenton Park, the events will see the screening of two deeply moving films; Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story and Football Rebels.

For more information on the whole programme, or to buy tickets, visit

The Art of Football season forms part of the Liverpool 2018 programme which celebrated ten years since Liverpool’s transformational tenure as European Capital of Culture. The football-inspired project has been curated by Bido Lito! in collaboration with Foto Octo and Laces Out. 

Bido Lito! Founder and Art Of Football Lead Curator Craig G Pennington, said: “During the World Cup, when football takes an international centre stage, we have an opportunity to examine the way football is a prism through which we can explore, dissect and understand the great debates of our often confusing and contradictory times. A city such as ours, where football is absolutely at the core of our being and central to the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us, is the perfect host for this project.”

“Through this project, we are working with a team of fantastic partners to present a series of projects that explore and distill challenging and contradictory ideas into a celebration of the often overlooked unifying power of football. A festival of the culture surrounding football, to coincide with the greatest football festival in the world.”

 Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Football is intrinsically linked with Liverpool, and we wanted it to be a key element of the programme which marks this milestone year for the city.

“Although it coincides with the World Cup, it’s not just a simple retrospective of the game. The season delves deeply into how this seemingly simple game infiltrates so many aspects of our lives and has a direct impact on the world around us – regardless of whether you’re a fan of the beautiful game or not.

“It’s a diverse programme ranging from exhibitions and parades, to world music and even an insight into the lives of former players who have first-hand experience of the power of football. With the buzz around the World Cup, football fever will undoubtedly take over the city and this will prove to be a highlight 2018 for many residents and visitors.”

The Art of the Football Shirt