Looking up after lockdown, a day out in Liverpool by Elizabeth Longwill

We have entered a new and odd phase of lockdown in our house. Childcare is open and we are still furloughed, so our three year old  daughter is now the only one ‘going to work’.

This means child free days, together, at a time when things are opening up. 

Without wanting to sound flippant about the awfulness of the global pandemic, anyone with small children will appreciate that this is an exciting situation to be in.

So, we decided it was time to go on a jaunt. We would have a jam-packed day, one that still meant we would be back in time for nursery pick up.

We moved to Wallasey in December, we had barely unpacked before lockdown happened, so we have plenty to explore.

First stop had to be to ‘Ferry across the Mersey’ on the iconic Snowdrop dazzle boat. We set off on our bikes to Seacombe. We didn’t bring our bikes on board, but it is an option if you want to continue your cycle around Liverpool.

Being able to sail into the city is in my opinion the best form of public transport and it is also pandemic friendly, there was plenty of space and fresh air. Face coverings must be worn on board. We took a seat and enjoyed the view as the Liverpool waterfront came into to view.

Buildings, people, shops, traffic, I felt giddy with excitement. We ambled around the city centre and Liverpool One. The streets were quiet, but the atmosphere was friendly, the shops are well organised with reminders to mask up and hand sanitiser stations on entry.

Liverpool One has a one-way system and arrows on the ground to follow, for someone like me who finds shopping centres quite overwhelming and has a terrible sense of direction this is actually pretty useful. 

It was lovely just to walk around and go into shops and have those little social interactions with strangers that we haven’t had in the last few months, I hadn’t realised how much I had missed that. 

Anyone who knows us will know we cannot go too long without being fed. I had booked a table for second breakfast at Lunyalita in Albert Dock. It is a Spanish style tapas restaurant. It was well organised and laid out for social distance and the staff were welcoming and friendly.

We enjoyed a Spanish version of a full breakfast and a strong coffee, then refreshed we headed to our next stop the Walker Art Gallery.

The Gallery is open, but you need to book a visiting slot online. We were welcomed at the door and given a quick run through. Most of the gallery is open apart from some of the interactive exhibits and they are operating a one-way system.

We started off in Sculpture through to stern Victorians and pouty Pre-Raphaelites, then around the John Moores prize winners exhibition which features winners since 1957.

The exhibition is a great showcase of modern British contemporary art,  it’s a really diverse exhibition featuring realism, abstraction, pop art and figuration, there are some big names like Hockney and Warhol and also some artists I wasn’t familiar with, but was inspired to find out more about! 

We couldn’t dilly dally too long as the clock was ticking. The staff greeted us again on our way out and asked if we had enjoyed our visit. We dashed back for the 2pm ferry crossing, then hopped on our bikes home. A successful jaunt. Later our daughter Clara informed us that she had spent the day at nursery dancing and being a dinosaur, and what had me and Daddy been doing today? 

Oh nothing much.

Written by Elizabeth Longwill 


Mersey Ferries https://www.merseyferries.co.uk/

Lunyalita https://lunya.co.uk/lunyalita/

Walker Art Gallery https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker-art-gallery

Cultural spaces reopening on Merseyside

As the lockdown eases, many of our fantastic arts and cultural venues are reopening. It’s amazing to see but can be difficult to navigate all the different times, dates and venue requirements.

We’ve compiled a handy list of all the current information, so you can head out and enjoy the region’s unique cultural spaces again.

Bluecoat – Open Thursday – Saturday, 11am – 4.30pm. Limited number of visitors, three at one time.

The Beatles Story – Opens 21 July, 10am – 6pm, pre-booked only.

British Music Experience – Opens 1 August, pre-booked only.

Calderstones Park – Open, the exhibition and shop are open Saturday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm.

FACT – Cinema opens 31 July. Galleries open from 12 August.

Plaza Cinema, Waterloo – Open, pre-selling tickets from their box office.

Strawberry Field Visitor Centre – Open, pre-booked only.

Tate Liverpool – Opens 27th July, pre-booked only. Café and shop only open to pre-booked visitors

Liver Tours – Open, operating City Walks from Albert Dock to Mathew Street.

Liverpool Cathedral – Open for Private Prayer only, daily 11-3pm in the Lady Chapel. Pre-booked only.

Ness Botanic Gardens – Open for members and volunteers. Pre-booked only.

Mersey Ferries – Open weekdays and weekends, with a maximum number of 90 people per journey. Special cruises are cancelled until August 

Metropolitan Cathedral – Open for Private Prayer only, daily 12pm – 4pm. Sunday Mass is held online via their Facebook and YouTube pages.

Speke Hall – Grounds only open. Pre-booked only.

Unity Theatre – Opens 31 August. Phased reopening for artist support, community engagement and business hire.

World Museum – Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm only. Pre-booked only.

Walker Art Gallery – Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm only. Pre-booked only.  


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.