Look Before you LEAP

This week LEAP dance festival returns to the city for ten days of incredible performances. We chose five favourites.

 

Motionhouse: WILD

The opening performance of this year’s festival, WILD explores our disconnect with the natural environment and asks if, in our increasingly urban lives, the wild is still shaping our behaviour?

Integrating dynamic choreography, acrobatic movement and hand-to-hand partnering, WILD will be staged atop an urban forest of industrial scaffolding in Constellations’ outdoor space, in a breathtaking show for audiences of all ages.

Hinterlands, 12 Oct, 19:30 – 22:00. £12 / £10 concs

 

Frances Disley: Tripleflex

Merging visual art and dance, artist Frances Disley presents a new immersive installation activated by three contemporary dance artists and accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack from M. T. Hall.

Tripleflex explores painting via live performance, as brushstrokes guide the movements of the performers. The work will be presented in two parts; matinee for families, and the evening performance for the general public.

Bluecoat, 1o Oct 11:00 – 12:30 and 19:oo – 20:30. £6 / £5 concs

 

Community Dance Platform

Dancers from MDI’s 50 Moves, Men!Dancing! and Merseyside Youth Dance Company will be joined by invited groups and dance artists from across the North West to present new work.

Performers from previous years have gone on to be part of the CAT programme, joined the National Youth Dance Company or been commissioned to create original dance works.

Capstone Theatre, 6 Oct 17:00 – 19:00. £8 / 6 concs

 

Fringe Festival

A platform for young performers based in Liverpool, and a chance for new audiences to experience dance. LEAP Fringe is a mini ‘festival-within-a-festival’ with a DIY ethos, using movement as the catalyst.

Expect the unexpected; a programme of pop-up performances on the street and in non-traditional theatre spaces along Hope Street.

Hope Street, 11 Oct 17:00 – 22:00 and 12 Oct 13:00 – 22:00. Free

 

Black Holes

Weaving poetic text and movement, Alexandrina Hemsley and Seke Chimutengwende retell the universe’s history from big bang to death.

Speculating on how to be, with bodies carrying histories of marginalisation and anti blackness, they propel lived experiences onto a cosmic scale.

Alexandrina and Seke began working together in 2016. Exploring the potentials and problematics of Afrofuturism shapes their collaboration.

They situate their bodies inside shifting and imagined landscapes, searching for hopeful possibilities amidst the harshness of past and present dystopias.

Unity Theatre, 5 Oct 19:30 – 21:30. £10 / £8 concs

You can find more about all these shows, plus all the other LEAP 2019 shows, and buy tickets at the LEAP festival page.

Fun Family Events for Summer 2019

There’s a whole range of family activities happening on Merseyside this summer and crucially many aren’t weather dependent – a definite lifesaver in the school holidays.

From summer art schools and historical workshops to hidden fairy villages, you’re sure to find something of interest for both children and parents.

Most of the activities are also free, so it won’t break the bank keeping everyone entertained.

Big Art for Little Artists

Bring your babies and toddlers to join in for an hour of creative play, exploration, songs and stories. Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street, L3, open daily, 10am – 5pm, free.

Little Liverpool

The ‘Little Liverpool’ gallery at the Museum of Liverpool is a hands-on fantasy world for children under six to play and learn. Inside the gallery the youngest visitors can create their own Liverpool. Pier Head, L3, open daily, 10.15am – 3.45pm, free.

Yellow Sub

One of Liverpool’s leading city-based family entertainment centres is Yellow Sub. The centre houses a host of unique attractions, including a large and small play frame, an arcade, football pitch and a sensory room. Brunswick Business Park, L3, 10pm – 6pm. Admission; £1 – £6.45.

Vale Park

Wirral’s Vale Park is home to a hidden fairy village, an enchanting spot perfect for families to spend a relaxing summer’s day. The park also has fantastic views of the River Mersey and Liverpool skyline. Magazine Promenade, New Brighton, open daily 24 hours, free.

Lady Lever Art Gallery

Join the education team at the Lady Lever Art Gallery and make your own piece of artwork, inspired by their collections. Each session has different themes from badge making to Rembrandt portraits See Make Do, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, 30/31 July, 1pm – 4pm, free.

Bluecoat Creative Workshops

Explore the wonder and the fragility of nature on Earth, with this free arts workshop for children and young people. The workshop is led by Survey artist Chris Alton. Bluecoat climate change workshop, School Lane, L1, 2 August, 1 – 4pm.

Children aged 7 to 11 are invited to join in for four days of creative fun during the summer holidays. The Bluecoat Summer School is inspired by their exhibition, Rise Up! Bring packed lunches and dress to get messy! School Lane, L1, 12 – 15 August, 10pm – 4pm. Tickets: £80.

Liverpool Indoor Funfair

The Liverpool Indoor Funfair is returning this summer! Get ready for all the thrills, spills, laughter and fun of the fair. Great for rainy days during the school holidays. Kings Dock Exhibition Centre, L3, 23 August – 1 September. Admission; £10 (rider), £2 (spectator).

Pirate Party

Find out how pirates lived and navigated the oceans, the weapons they used, plus learn some rousing sea shanties. Fancy dress is strongly encouraged! Children’s Pirate Party, Palm House, Sefton Park, 6 August, 2pm – 4pm. Admission; £2 children, £5 adults.

Drama Weeks

The fun-filled ‘Drama Weeks’ at the Everyman Theatre culminate in a performance  completely of your own creation. It’s a great way for children to explore their creativity and make new friends. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyman Theatre, Hope Street, L1, 7 August – 11 August, 12 – 16 August, 21 August – 25 August. Tickets: £100 per week.

Why we’re excited about WoWFest19

Writing on the Wall (WoW) is a Liverpool-based organisation which celebrates writing in all its forms through year-round writing development projects and their annual month-long literature festival.

Throughout May, the annual WoWFEST presents an eclectic mix of local, national and international writers, spoken word performers, commentators and artists. The festival embraces a broad range of writing including journalism, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, song-writing, and storytelling. This is all set in the beautiful venues and spaces of Liverpool.

Their twentieth festival programme has the theme ‘Where Are We Now?’ In today’s world the rich are getting richer, but otherwise uncertainty is the order of the day; Brexit, climate change, class, race, populism, fake news and digital surveillance, are changing and challenging all our old conceptions. The stage is set for WoWFEST19 to seek answers.

This year’s festival features Will Self, Jo Brand, Ben Okri, Kit De Waal, and Jennifer Makumbi, plus a host of other events and workshops.

Here are just some of the festival highlights:

Will Self, launches WoWFEST19 with a keynote speech responding to the festival theme ‘Where Are We Now?’ Join writer and journalist Will and WoW to try and work out some answers to where we are now and where we might be going. (The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1, 1 May, 7pm. Tickets: £15/£8 (Students, Over 60s, Unemployed)

‘Junk Mail: The Power of Fake News’ discusses the influence and impact of fake information. News is information and information is power. But where does that power end up when the news is fake?  The discussion features former Columnist of the Year, Brian Reade; Guardian columnist, Dawn Foster; Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, Des Freedman; and author Brian Cathcart.

The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1, 9 May, 7pm.
Tickets: £6/£3 concs / unwaged

Mike Leigh’s gripping account of the 1819 St Peter’s Field massacre ‘Peterloo’, is a devastating portrait of class and political corruption. The film develops our understanding of how the poor in Britain have coped with oppression. A necessary film for our times and one delivered in an authentic voice. The evening also includes a Mike Leigh Q & A. (Plaza Community Cinema, 13 Crosby Road North, Waterloo, Liverpool, L22, 13 May, 6pm. Tickets: £10/£5 – Students/Over 60s/Unemployed)

Broadcaster and writer Roger Hill leads a walking tour ‘Where Are We?’ through the Liverpool streets to discover The City That Never Was, But Always Is. Expect to see Liverpool in a new, maybe fantastical light. In this period of uncertainty and competing realities, what should we believe?

Assembly Point: Ropewalks Square, outside FACT, L1, 5 May, 1pm & 3pm.
Tickets: £5/£3 concs / unwaged 

The British Music Experience host ‘Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story’. Poly Styrene was a singer-songwriter, an artist and a true punk icon. For the first time, the vibrant jigsaw of Poly’s inspiring story has been lovingly pieced together by her daughter, singer-songwriter Celeste Bell, and writer/artist Zoë Howe. (British Music Experience, Cunard Building, Canada Boulevard, L3, 30 May, 8pm.

Tickets: £34.50/£28.50 concs / unwaged (with book) and £12/£6 concs / unwaged (without book)

WoWFest19 will also be hosting Guardian parliamentary sketch writer John Grace, as he tells the hysterical tale of Theresa May’s first turbulent year at No 10. ‘John Grace and the tale of the Maybot’ observes Theresa May’s efforts to remain strong and stable – and, indeed, Prime Minister.

Waterstones Liverpool ONE, 12 College Lane, Liverpool, L1, 10 May, 6pm.
Tickets: £3/£2 Waterstones Card Holders

Comedy’s finest Jo Brand brings her darkly funny life-guide to WoWFest this year. ‘Born Lippy’ is a gathering of all the things Jo wishes she’d known, all the things she’s learnt, and all the things she hopes for the future. Join her in conversation with one of Liverpool’s finest actors, Eithne Browne (Sometimes, Always, Never, Emmerdale) as she discusses how to do female.

Philharmonic Hall, Hope Street, Liverpool, L1, 14 May, 8pm.
Tickets: £23.50/£17.50 concs / unwaged (with book) and £16/£10 concs / unwaged (without book)

BBC Poetry Slam Champion Jess Green returns with a rousing, lyrical and humorous look at modern politics, ‘A Self-Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn’. A show which not only received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe but also led to Jess having a cup of tea with the man himself!

Unity Theatre, 1 Hope Place, Liverpool, L1, 24/25 May, 7.30pm

Tickets: £15/£10 concs

Kerry Hudson, award-winning novelist delivers an insightful workshop on writing non-fiction. In her most recent book Lowborn, Kerry journeys through her own childhood poverty, exploring what it means to be poor in Britain today. Free to attend, registration required.

Allerton Library, Allerton Road, Liverpool, L18, 18 May, 1pm.
Tickets: Free, booking is advised

Windsor Street’s creative organisations are throwing a street party filled with performance, spoken word, dance, music, food, film, arts and crafts. This all takes place in the street’s beautiful venues this LightNight. ‘Windsor Street Party for Light Night’ celebrates the Liverpool 8 community and their creativity. The evening opens with the energetic Katumba drummers and a WoW writing workshop.

Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, L8, 17 May, 6pm. Just turn up, free

Claire Heuchan’s book ‘What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions’, encourages children to think for themselves, to bring everyone into the conversation and explore the history of race and society. Claire will be discussing the issues and reading extracts. (Toxteth Library, Windsor Street, L8, 13 May, 11am. Tickets: Free)

For tickets and more information on WoWFest19 see the website.

Ade Blackburn

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake comes to the Empire

Sir Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is soon to grace our city, and it’s not one to be missed!

This classic tale was originally composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875 and is known to be a timeless love story across the globe. Combining passion and tragedy with what is arguably the most powerful style of dance, this production captivates its audience long after leaving their seats.

The enchanting story traditionally features a swan princess, Odette, and a prince, Prince Siegfried, conveying the tale of their forbidden love as Odette changes form from day to night under the curse of a sorcerer.

Holding eight Olivier awards and a Knighthood for his services to dance, Bourne is renowned for his unusual and breathtaking interpretations of traditional ballet. His dance-theatre company, New Adventures, are “committed to finding and developing diverse young talent”, delivering initiatives such as Swan School, a two-week long intensive designed to prepare their graduate-level dancers for the audition process.

New Adventures’ annual open auditions were attended by over four hundred hopefuls; a gruelling process throughout which Bourne and his associate artists, Lez Brotherston and Paule Constable, have selected only the most talented and ambitious dancers. Working behind the scenes to create an unforgettable production, Brotherston ditches the tutus for feathered slacks and paints each performer with a sleek, black beak, putting a simple, yet tasteful spin on this reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece.

Starring Will Bozier and Max Westall, both dancers make their debut as The Swan, challenging all conventions of the typical female ensemble. Returning to the role of The Prince, Liam Mower and Dominic North are accompanied by New Adventures’ newcomer, James Lovell, who will also make his professional debut with the company.

The show will take place at Liverpool Empire Theatre from Tuesday 9 April to Saturday 13 April and will then go on to tour internationally, spreading its magic worldwide.

209 Women Series: A History of Parliamentary Portraiture

The tradition of honouring political figures with public portraiture stretches back hundreds of years — through oil paintings, marble statues or bronze busts. The UK Parliamentary Art Collection is full of portraits of notable British figures, although the weighting of the parliamentary collection is, undeniably, chiefly towards white middle-class men. It tells a story not just of the history of our politics, but also how that history is managed, and who gets to have a place in it.

When the new Palace of Westminster was under construction in the 19th century, the Fine Arts Commission intended on covering the newly built walls with paintings — ideally by British artists. The intention was to rouse national interest and illustrate Britain’s refusal to fall behind its European neighbours in artistic endeavours. This included many portraits of significant figures, chiefly members of the royal family, as well as scenes of British military success, such as the Spanish Armada. However, the Commision never managed to fill the newly built Houses of Parliament, chiefly due to financial issues, and over time the blank spaces on the walls of the palace were plastered instead in wallpaper.

In the 1950s there was a revival of the Fine Arts Commision as it was agreed that there was a need to capture and celebrate the history of British politics. By the 1950s, there were huge gaps in political history that had no artistic documentation, it was felt that many significant political figures had been forgotten. This resulted in the compilation of a list of notable figures that, it was felt, had earned a space on the walls of the Palace of Westminster. Many political figures that merited a portrait were finally recognised, such as William Wilberforce and Neville Chamberlain.

In more recent years, the focus on political portraiture has at long last become more inclusive. Of course, the huge oil paintings of Queen Victoria in the Houses of Parliament remain, but now every MP, despite gender, race and sexulality has been offered to have their portrait captured — not through painting, but through the more accessible and democratising medium of photography. In 2017 the MPs Portrait Project worked alongside photographer Chris McAndrew and succeeded in capturing universal and up to date portraits of British MPs to be viewed on the Parliament website. The aim was to ‘humanise the public figures responsible for running our country’¹. This project went down a storm with the general public ‘the pictures went down well on social media – and showed MPs weren’t “alien species” but a “reflection of us as real people”’. ²

Today, other projects also attempt to capture and celebrate the achievements of MPs in UK Parliament, such as 209 Women. This exhibition focuses specifically on the 209 women MPs in UK Parliament, individually photographed by 209 female photographers. The exhibition launched at Portcullis House, allowing for all the female MPs to have their portrait hang in parliamentary residence. Like the MP Portrait Project, it also humanises the women that manage our country. 209 Women arguably goes one step further, as it captures each MP for the woman she is, depicting these female MPs and their personalities, also the relationship between each MP and her photographer is clear. The photographers endeavoured to capture the essence of each MP: 209 Women, then, acts as a good middle ground between the universal archival nature of the recent MP portrait project and the traditional, more personal element of portraiture paintings.

The tradition of parliamentary portraiture is continuing into the 21st century, and although the mediums may evolve from traditional paintings and statues to photography, this allows for more inclusivity, allowing more MPs to be recognised and praised for their work.

References:

1. Carrie Kleiner, ‘Making History: Official Portraits and Open Images’, Parliamentary Digital Service, (2017), <https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2017/07/21/mp-official-portraits-open-source-images/> [accessed 6th March 2019].

Georgina Pattinson, ‘MP’s portraits: Photos show ‘human’ side of Parliament’, BBC News, (28 July 2017), <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-parliaments-40755201>[accessed 11th March 2019].

From 1918 to 209 Women: 100 Years of Women in Politics

209 Women is an upcoming exhibition at the Open Eye Gallery, launching at the end of February. This exhibition marks one hundred years since the first British women gained the right to vote in 1918.

 

This piece was written by Alisha Snozwell, currently on placement at Open Eye Gallery. Thanks to Alisha and Open Eye for sharing it with us

Throughout the last century the role and rights of women have advanced significantly; the twentieth century saw more achievements for women’s rights in the UK than, perhaps, previous centuries combined. These advancements were not just political but social too, such as women’s workplace and reproductive rights. These achievements were milestones in the ongoing move towards gender equality in the UK.

2018 marked a hundred years since the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918, the first of a number of political achievements for women. This act allowed British women to vote in UK Parliamentary Elections for the first time, although only certain women were granted the right to vote. Yet, despite the initial inequalities, the years of suffrage campaigning finally led to the right to vote for millions of women. In 1918 the Parliament Qualification of Women Act was also passed, allowing women to be elected into UK Parliament, making 2018 the centenary of one of the most significant milestones in UK political history, for women anyway. Yet, over a hundred years later British politics remains overwhelmingly patriarchal, with women making up only 32% of MPs. 209 Women aims to acknowledge how far we’ve come but also to illustrate just how much further we need to go.

With continued suffrage campaigning after 1918, women finally achieved universal voting rights with men in the UK by the 1928 Equal Franchise Act. The Life Peerages Act was passed in 1958 allowing women to sit in the House of Lords for the first time. This inclusion of women kickstarted the the breakdown of this traditional patriarchal system. By 1979 the first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was elected. This illustrates the progression of women’s rights: at the beginning of 1918 women couldn’t even vote, yet in just over sixty years a woman is elected to represent the country.

As well as political achievements, women have also achieved social rights. In 1961 the contraceptive pill was made available to all on the NHS, sparking the sexual revolution of the 1960s. The pill has been called the ‘greatest scientific invention of the twentieth century’ by some due to the freedom it awarded millions of women. Similarly, the 1967 Abortion Act granted women the right to an abortion under certain conditions. This enabled women more autonomy over their own lives, not to mention their own bodies. Both allowed for choice and increased sexual equality with men. Women could now be freed from inescapable motherhood. This parliamentary act gained serious opposition, ‘the bill came under attack almost immediately, and this has continued to the present day with fifty attempts to restrict it’. Both the contraceptive pill and the Abortion Act received opposition, mainly from faith groups.

As well as reproductive rights, women also fought to secure gender equality in the workplace. In 1968 the Ford Dagenham sewing machinists’ strike over the lack of ‘sex equality’ led to the 1970 Equal Pay Act. The fight for equal pay often divided opinions as ‘not every trade union representative was initially supportive of what now seems obvious, that women and men should be paid the same rate for doing the same job.’ Yet in 2018 the gender pay gap in the UK was 17.9%, this again proves how far the UK has to go to achieve gender parity.

By the 21st century the inclusion of women in UK politics reached a record breaking level: there are currently 209 elected female MPs out of a total 650. Although this is a cause for celebration I can’t help noting that this is still only a fraction. UK politics is still dominated by men, we need more women in the political picture.

By Alisha Snozwell, University of Liverpool

Image: Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, by Hannah Starkey

Five for the Family

Christmas is coming! At this time of year, there’s always plenty of all-ages fun to be had. Here are our top five for the family this December…

The Snow Queen

Unlike any other panto in the city, the multi-talented cast of The Snow Queen sing, dance, entertain and play music live on stage, making sure The Snow Queen is as cool as can be.

Regular Everyman writers unite with musical director Greg Last to bring the usual music and mayhem to this chilly tale. Already in swing, the Snow Queen runs until Saturday 19 Jan, with tickets priced from £15 to £35.

For more information click here.

A Christmas Carol

Join the Playhouse Theatre for an evening of festive fun, music and merriment, in their 2018 adaption of A Christmas Carol. Packed with thrilling, fast-paced entertainment and delight, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future will whisk you on a brilliantly funny flight of theatrical fancy. On until 12 January, each performance starts at 7:30pm, with tickets ranging from £10-40.

For more information click here.

Dear Santa

A perfect introduction to theatre for those aged 2 to 7 years old, Dear Santa is a Christmas present children and parents alike will never forget.

Santa is determined to deliver the most fantastic Christmas present to our little hero Sarah. But he doesn’t get it right straight away! With the help of his cheeky Elf, he finally settles on something ‘perfect’, just in time for Christmas Eve. All the ingredients of Rod Campbell’s ingeniously simple and charming style are brought to life on stage, plus a whole lot more… with music, laughter and plenty of audience participation.

Come along to The Atkinson and enjoy the magic from the 12 – 18 Dec, with performances starting at 1:30pm, for just £12.50!

For more information click here.

In the Window: Mister Finch

A story sewn in, woven in. Velvet curtains from an old hotel, a threadbare wedding dress and a vintage apron become birds and beasts, looking for new owners and adventures to have. Storytelling creatures for people who are also a little lost, found and forgotten.

For the month of December, the Bluecoat Display Centre window will be brought to life with a unique installation by Mister Finch. Come along for free to see the fantastic and magical world of In the Window.

For more information click here.

Beauty and the Beast

Come along to the Unity Theatre, for the bold re-telling of the classic family tale; Beauty and the Beast. Produced in partnership with the innovative disability arts organisation DaDaFest, Beauty and the Beast shows that everyone’s attitude can, at times, be beastly!

The show started on 30 Nov and runs until 5 Jan, so head over whilst you have the chance for just £9.50. Performances start at 6pm every evening.

For more information click here.

Celebrating 90 Years of the Williamson Art Gallery

In celebration of its 90th birthday we take a look inside the Williamson Art Gallery, one of Birkenhead’s hidden gems.

Located just a few minutes from the centre of Birkenhead, sitting pretty in the beautiful village of Oxton. Established in 1928, it was funded by Birkenhead Borough Council through philanthropist John Williamson (a director of Cunard Steamship Company) and his son Patrick, who gave the gallery its name.

These days, the Williamson is permanent home to ceramics, sculptures, internationally-recognised paintings, Liverpool Porcelain and the biggest public collection of Della Robbia pottery in the UK. The building hosts a whopping 14 gallery spaces, housing not only one of the North West’s most significant art collections but also an ever-changing roster of exhibitions from local, national and international artists.

The Williamson has a strong community focus; the gift shop is packed to the rafters with work from local craftspeople and artisans. Potters, jewellers, textile artists, painters, jewellers and photographers are all represented in an amazing showcase of Wirral’s creative community.

The gallery’s community focus extends into its programme, with local artists regularly running workshops in drawing, life drawing, painting, jewellery, mixed media and lots more. There are also twice-monthly drop in workshops aimed at families, and a weekly art group aimed at children under the age of five.

The Williamson is home to an independently-run café with food for all tastes and pockets. The café is also home to a whole host of workshops and community events, including an informal book club named ‘Books and Banter’, young person’s art groups, and the regular meetings of the Wirral Embroiderers Guild.

The Williamson Art Gallery is open Wed – Sun, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

A New Way to Say Goodbye

Koffin are on a mission to change how we think about death. The way we live has changed dramatically over the last century but for some reason, the way we say goodbye hasn’t.


The start-up — led by British artist, Gina Gzarnecki, and copywriter/brand consultant, Clare Barry, is currently being exhibited at Liverpool Oratory as part of DaDaFest International.

The first inspiration for Gina was being with her mum while organising a coffin for her departed dad. The ‘more you spend the more you love’ attitude infuriated her. Koffin became a cause for Gina, arguing that ‘many people are exploited at their most vulnerable and are subjected to out-dated practices that compound grief and poison our planet.’

The process of making the Koffins was lengthy. The first was a papier-mache coffin made for a friend in 2014, in the shape of a giant winged sphinx. Even in this pseudo-business stage, they realised that if they were to make all coffins this way they would be just as unaffordable as existing ones; so, they set about finding a material and a process that was not only mass producible but also the best environmentally.

Koffin is now a product that’s practical and designed to be totally fit for purpose. It is also a symbol of protest about the monopolisation of the ‘death industry’ and the 80% rise in funeral costs over the last ten years. The decorated Koffins are diverse observations and provocations, questioning ownership, authorship, taboos, values, traditions and cultural practices.

Gina observed ‘it’s a proven fact: making things makes you feel better. Art in healthcare environments has economic impact because people get better quicker. If people can express themselves in any way – a colour, a hand print or an image on the Koffin, this can help people in their grief.’

The project is also about sustaining a career in art through capitalisation of ideas; if the artist is a trader in ideas, why leave this to someone else to make a living from? For Gina, after 30 years of experiencing the difficulties of making a living as an artist, it was time to combine everything and change.

Gina’s work is now the only bio-polymer coffin in production in the UK. In a business sense, Koffins are not for maximum profit and any economies of scale are used to benefit the customers. But are they art? Does it matter? As she elaborated, ‘I’m trying to turn the hardest thing into something beautiful for people – to help them in grief by way of a product option…an idea and to therefore look at ways of sustaining my practice and making something that everyone can relate to – not just the gallery-going public.’

The end point of the exhibition is only the starting point. Gina and her team now need to raise investment through crowdfunding or other ways to get into production properly. The artist explained ‘it is a venture into how to earn a wage, to employ and skill-up local creatives through transforming the prototype and all the years of R&D into a good business.’

They are also running free master classes for locals, teaching them skills for more possibilities of creative employment, development and diversification. Classes will be held at Ignite, Liverpool from November 2018.

Take a look inside the 2018 Winter Arts Market

This year’s Winter Arts Market returns on Saturday 1 December, offering shoppers the chance to buy handmade artworks, crafts and design gifts in the lead up to Christmas. Over 200 independent artists, designers and makers will transform Liverpool Cathedral into a bustling market displaying colourful creations alongside an artisan food fair and vintage fair.

This year Open Culture are celebrating the tenth edition of this special event, which will feature stalls from over 200 artists, designers, makers, crafters, food producers, clothing designers and vintage sellers.

A huge variety of handmade work will be available including intricate jewellery, original screenprints, paintings, tableware, beauty products, colourful decorations, accessories, textiles, photography, knitwear, plus food gifts, clothing and vintage at prices for all pockets.

Read on for just a taster of the thousands upon thousands of items on sale at this unique festive event.

Liverpool is packed full of talented illustrators turning their pen to everything from cute colourful animals to detailed monochromatic portraits, fairy tales and magic. At this year’s Winter Arts Market, you can pick up their incredible designs on everything from prints and mugs to greetings cards, tea towels, accessories, key rings tote bags and coasters.

There’s also tons of beautiful jewellery to be found, from traditional gold, silver and gems to work that is a bit more left field with pieces made from clay, glass and plastic. Keep an eye out for visual artist Aliyah Hussain’s abstract, playful clay, Kim Lawler’s beautiful laser-cut terrarium pendants and statement pieces in plastic, acrylic and even wood from Anna Mulhearn.

Beauty products are always a popular pick for Christmas and have become a staple at the market in recent years; choose from naturally-produced soaps by Carmel Carney, palm oil-free skincare from Scent Trail and health and wellbeing products from local beekeeper Vonnybee, amongst others.

Painting and photography have always been staple fixtures at Open Culture markets and this year is no different; originals and smaller items will be on sale from most artists so grab a beautiful image of Liverpool, Wirral, or something a little more abstract if that’s what you’re into! This year’s market will also feature work from contemporary landscape painter and first-time exhibitor Holly Lloyd.

As the biggest arts and crafts fair in Merseyside, the Winter Arts Market has room for pretty much every art form you can think of with wood, ceramics, and glass all represented. Don’t miss out on unique work from woodturners, pen makers, furniture upcyclers, glass blowers, glass fusers, teapots, smiling pots and tableware made from foraged clay.

Alongside hundreds of crafters, downstairs in the Cathedral’s lower corridor the Food Fair is back and piled high with artisan chocolates, blended teas, cake, fudge, jams, liqueurs and lots more tasty treats. Along the corridor, be ready for a good rummage through the retro treasure trove that is the Vintage Fair, which also features independent clothing designers showcasing their work at the market for the first time.

The Winter Arts Market is open 10am – 7pm and costs just £3 to enter (under 16s go free).