Keith Haring at The Tate: The UK’s First Major Exhibition

Keith Haring’s vibrant and iconic creations are currently being showcased at Tate Liverpool, 14 June – 10 November 2019, as the UK’s first major exhibition of his artwork.

Coming from the New York art scene, Haring drew on graffiti, pop art and underground club culture for inspiration. He has been highly influential since his rise to fame in the 1980’s, shining light on pressing social issues including politics, racism, drug addiction, the environment, homophobia and AIDS awareness.

The artist devoted his time to creating truly public art, making a name for himself by drawing on unused advertising panels in local subway stations. Covered in matte black paper, they made the perfect canvas, and soon his white chalk drawings became familiar to commuters of all kinds. He was often arrested for vandalism, while a number of policemen considered themselves to be his fans.

Throughout his career, Haring worked alongside world renowned music artists and fashion designers – including the likes of David Bowie and Vivienne Westwood – once again expanding his audience as he introduced his work through a large variation of mediums. Andy Warhol was by far his most admired fellow artist, who quickly became his mentor and dear friend following Haring’s second exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in 1984, where they met.

Having achieved international recognition, Haring opened the Pop Shop in 1986, which he considered to be an extension of his work. He painted the interior as an abstract mural, covering the ceiling, walls and floor in black and white paint. Despite criticisms from his peers in the art world, he went ahead. Selling posters, magnets, tees and more, his artwork became even more accessible to the public, allowing anyone to walk in and buy something to cherish at a low cost.

Digitized by Backstage Library Works

Using his fame for the good of the people, Haring’s legendary ‘Crack is Wack’ mural was made during the crack cocaine epidemic in 1986, big, bright and close enough for passing cars on the nearby road to see. Although he initially painted it without any permission, the piece was immediately put under the protection of the City Department of Parks.

If that isn’t Haring’s most famous and impactful piece, then it has to be ‘Ignorance = Fear’, his interpretation of the ancient Japanese proverb, three wise monkeys. The artist used the same hand gestures – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – to convey the struggles faced by those living with AIDS, after being diagnosed himself in 1988. Soon after, he set up the Keith Haring Foundation, providing funding and imagery to AIDS organisations and children’s programmes, and sadly died in 1990 due to health complications.

The exhibition itself will include over 85 bold pieces and related events will be available for Tate Members to attend on Thursday 13th June, such as the private viewing, curator talk and guided tour. An official after party will also take place at Constellations, hosted by Liverpool’s own Sonic Yootha.

Why we’re excited about Physical Fest 2019

Physical Fest is back! After taking a break last year, they have returned even bigger and better, with some incredible performances and workshops lined up around Liverpool. Being the only festival of its kind in the UK, they showcase the best contemporary physical work from local, national and international creatives.


Presented by Tmesis Theatre, Physical Fest takes place from 10th to 15th June, theming this year’s celebrations around female artists and premiering a selection of show-stopping pieces.

It’s really not one to miss, but if you don’t have time to see everything, here are a few highlights we think you’ll love…

I Cried Because I Had No Shoes Until…

Global teacher, director and performer Izumi Ashiwara explores ‘Shoes’ in gender and racial politics, using Japanese physical performance styles and puppetry. Watch her memories come to life and dissolve in a dreamlike, heart-wrenching masterpiece.

Tuesday 11th June, 7.30pm, Unity Theatre
Tickets: £12 – £15

Mothers who Make

Mother and maker Matilda Leyser’s peer-support group invites artistic mums of all kinds to join her growing national initiative. Acknowledging the similarities between crafting and raising her children, as well as the cultural assumption that the two are incompatible, Matilda challenged this idea and has since been invited to discuss her achievements on The Guilty Feminist podcast. Take part in a crafty morning with likeminded people – children are welcome, too!

Wednesday 12th June, 10.30am – 12.30am, Unity Theatre
Tickets: Free (booking required, go to the Unity Theatre website)


Catalan circus company Animal Religion explore the relationship between clay and body – ‘constantly transforming’ – in the UK premiere of their acrobatic performance, Fang. Expect to see something unique, as they take you on a journey using 500kg of clay and their trademark surreal humour.

Wednesday 12th June, 7.30pm, The Capstone Theatre
Tickets: £10 – £12


Devoted and Disgruntled

It comes as no surprise to working-class creatives that the arts are lacking in broadened backgrounds. But what can we do about it? Claire Bigley, producer of Physical Fest, invites you to join the discussion and create a path for female working-class artists.

Thursday 13th June, 11.00am – 3.00pm, Unity Theatre
Tickets: £5 (bring your lunch along)



Kill a Witch or Die Trying

Meraki Collective celebrate the formidable power of women in their dance theatre work, Kill a Witch or Die Trying. Once burned at the stake, now falling victim to the trolls of twitter, women are constantly demonised for speaking and standing out. Take your seat for this ‘visually captivating, belly laugh inducing’ performance.

Thursday 13th June, 4.00pm, Unity Theatre
(Pay what you decide)


What a treat – three extracts of new work in one evening! Dive features Teatro Pomodoro, Madame Senorita and the Reetta Honkakoski Company, exploring each piece through clown, bouffant and physical styles of theatre. These performances are bound to be unusual, intense and unforgettable.

Friday 14th June, 7.30pm, Unity Theatre
Tickets: £8 – £10

The Thinking Body of a Physical Actor

Physical theatre practitioner Reeta Honkakoski runs a playful day of technical exercises, improvisation and ensemble work. She strives to find a physical form for that which is invisible, using her artistic roots in Corporeal Mime to explore expression of thought through the body.

Saturday 15th June, 10.00am – 5.00pm, The Arts Theatre
Tickets: £45


For tickets and more information on Physical Fest, go to their website.