Venue Spotlight: Future Yard

Future Yard Wirral

Future Yard has quickly become one of the most talked about music venues in Merseyside and rightly so. The 350-capacity space at 75 Argyle Street, Birkenhead promises to be much more than just a music venue. Future Yard will also provide live industry training to budding creatives and will become a regional hub for artist development.

With no established music venues in Birkenhead, 2019’s Future Yard, two-day festival provided a taste of what could be over on the Wirral. Gig-goers from across Merseyside were attracted by the strong lineup which included a special, two-man performance by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys. The festival also gave local, emerging musicians the chance to perform alongside acts who were thriving, like Evian Christ and She Drew The Gun.

Following the success of the festival, it was clear there was an appetite for a permanent venue and this year we’ll see Future Yard bring some of the most exciting national and international artists to Wirral, while providing support slots to local up and coming artists and bands.

The venue also boasts a light and airy bar, coffee shop & kitchen, open all day every day, serving vegan and veggie food, with local craft beers and boss coffee. Additionally, their garden area with bleachers has already proved to be a popular hangout during the sunny weather. Future Yard feels just like the bustling creative hub it set out to be.

COVID-19 has obviously had a huge impact on music venues such as Future Yard but they are committed to realising their vision for the new space.

“We believe that Future Yard is needed now, more than ever before,” says Future Yard co-founder Craig Pennington. “True, it is a challenging time, but we believe the experience of lockdown has shown how powerful a community can be and we want to provide a space for our local community to come together. We’ve also seen an explosion in live streaming and digital performance, which has been hugely welcome and is here to stay, but this does not replace live music. People who love live music have acutely realised how important it is to them, how much of a role it plays in their lives. We’re committed to creating a new venue to champion and support new music in Birkenhead.”

Future Yard Bar & Kitchen

This past month Future Yard hosted touring exhibition, Super Cool Drawing Machine. Presented by Yuppies Music, the exhibition is a celebration of the visual art created by a host of internationally acclaimed, touring musicians. The exhibition featured paintings, photography, drawings, ceramics, digital instillations, recycled arts, sculpture and furniture. Hosting Super Cool Drawing Machine added another layer to the venue and one that we are likely to see explored again in the future.

Additionally, Future Yard recently announced PROPELLER, a new, artist-focused music programme. PROPELLER will provide access to quality studio space, personalised mentorship support, expert knowledge from leading industry minds and a vibrant peer to peer community for budding musicians. Their involvement in actively nurturing and supporting local musicians is arguably more important than ever with the challenges the on-going pandemic have had on the arts industry.

The PROPELLER membership programme is run by the Future Yard management team, alongside the mentors and team of supporting professionals, amassing years of relevant music industry experience. Project lead and mentor Cath Hurley said: 

“Having worked with exciting and emerging talent for the past 15 years, it’s easy to spot where the disconnects lie in the pathway for regional talent who deserve to progress on to a world stage. Local scenes can often feel fragmented and disconnected within themselves, even before artists start working nationally and breaking out to international markets. Future Yard is creating a community where information and experience is shared freely and opportunities can be sought out and maximised in order to grow audiences and revenues. 

Enabling talented musicians to build a viable career is at the heart of what we aim to do, whilst creating a safe and inclusive space for musicians to truly be themselves. We want artists to feel empowered, in control and supported in a community that celebrates their individuality and personality. The wider PROPELLER team is packed full of professionals that inspire us and have achieved great results with special artists. I can’t wait to introduce them to our growing community of local talent. Music in our region is so special and I can’t wait to hear so much of it thudding out of our rehearsal rooms and on to our stage.” 

PROPELLER applications close on Monday 2nd August and you can find out more about the programme here.

As for the venue itself the schedule of gigs already lined up in 2021 offers an insight into the diverse lineup you can expect to watch here, with the likes of Orchestral Movements In The Dark, Henge, Tokky Horror and Sam Brookes and many more coming up over the next few months.

With live music making it’s long-awaited come back, Future Yard is set to be a bustling music hub this summer and far beyond.

Check out the Future Yard website for more information and gig listings.

8 Free Activities To Do With Kids This Summer

Finding new ways to keep kids entertained over the summer isn’t easy, but there’s some great, free activities you can do in and around the city, including some fun days out, free museums, beach walks and more.

1. Follow the Mermaid Trail in New Brighton

New Brighton’s Mermaid Trail is a fun, walking activity for all the family, where you can discover five identical mermaid statues sculpted by a local artist Barry Canning-Eaton and decorated by local schools groups and they can be found at the following locations:

Statue 1 – Kings Parade
Statue 2 – Atherton Street/Victoria Road
Statue 3 – Seabank Road
Statue 4– Marine Promenade
Statue 5 – Victoria Parade

2. Visit Hale Lighthouse & Oglet Shore

If you’re up for an often muddy walk along the shore of the River Mersey then Oglet Shore can be reached via Dungeon Lane and is adjacent to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. You’ll also be rewarded for your adventure by reaching Hale Lighthouse. You can also head into the historical village of Hale and visit the statue of the Childe of Hale.

3. Get Creative at Tate Liverpool’s Learning Centre

Tate Liverpool’s Clore Learning Centre is designed especially for families. It’s a place to play, dance and have fun, as well as unwind and relax. Tate regularly update the space and activities so it links to their exhibitions, so you can always expect something new on each visit. Additionally, their Dream Screen is a great way for kids to get creative with the props and materials and take memorable photos.

4. Venture Out To Hilbre Islands Nature Reserve

Walking to the now-uninhabited Hilbre Islands at low tide feels like a real adventure for the whole family. Each season brings different flora and fauna on the islands and can be a great opportunity to see rare and endangered wildlife. In fact, the summer months also provide a perfect opportunity to see Grey Seals swimming just off-shore! Be sure to plan your trip in advance, checking tidal times, which will be on display at Dee Lane slipway. You can also get an idea of the tide times here. The two mile trip takes approximately an hour, so make sure to allow yourselves enough time to get back.

Rice Lane City Farm
Rice Lane City Farm

5. See The Animals At Rice Lane City Farm

Rice Lane City Farm, in Walton, is home to a whole host of friendly farmyard animals that you can visit for free. They accept donations from the public so that they are able to keep the farm open for visitors.

6. Hang Out With The Newly Refurbished Iron Men at Crosby Beach

Not only is Crosby Beach a lovely seafront walk but it’s also home to Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ installation of 100 Iron Men. A feature of the beach since 2005, they have very recently undergone a clean up and refurbishment, so now’s a great time to go and check them out in all their glory.

7. Explore The Museum of Liverpool

Discover more about the history of the city at The Museum of Liverpool. Visitors can explore how the port, its people, their creative and sporting history have shaped the city. Exhibits include The Beatles collections, Land Transport, including Liverpool Overhead Railway gallery which tells the story of the first electric elevated railway in the world. Additionally there’s Ben Johnson’s Liverpool Cityscape, a life-size Liverbird, and local archaeology collection.

8. Uncover Ancient History At The World Museum

If you’re looking for your history fix outside of Liverpool then at The World Museum you can discover Ancient Egypt, Natural History, Dinosaurs, Outer Space and meet live creatures at the Aquarium and the Bug House.

 

To find more activities you can do with the whole family check out our What’s On section.

LightNight 2021 Play Preview

LightNight 2021 Play - Play with Fire by Bring the Fire Project
Play with Fire by Bring the Fire Project

 

Liverpool’s annual, one-night, ‘culture-crawl’ LightNight returns on Friday 21 May, with arts venues opening their doors until late to shine a spotlight on the region’s world-class artistic offer. 

The line-up features over 70 free arts events which will take place online and at 30 city centre venues.

Here’s some highlights to look out for:

LUX by Focal Studios, DefProc Engineering, Urban Workbench and Everyman & Playhouse Theatres

20:30 – 23:00 at St Luke’s ‘Bombed Out’ Church

An interactive, projection-mapped game created especially for St Luke’s Church. LUX is an immersive augmented reality game and art installation, giving visitors the chance to interact with the iconic venue. Inside a futuristic control pod, inspired by 80s sci-fi games, players use contactless gesture controls to play with a wondrous machine and see the building come alive with light and energy. 

Cyber Labyrinth

Online

Cyber Labyrinth is a new media exhibition co-curated by Jaxton Su (Singapore) and Nien-Ting Chen (Taiwan), which imagines the uncertainty and ever-changing notion of the future as a temporal labyrinth that reconfigures itself arbitrarily. Presented in the form of a pseudo futuristic cyber café, it showcases a wide spectrum of experimental works including but not limited to video art, animation, music video, game, sonic art and performance art. Audiences can interact with the fun and engaging artworks as they embark on a psychedelic journey of future imaginings filled with wonders and surprises.

Word Play Open Mic with WoWFEST

Online

Enjoy a special online Open Mic hosted by multi award-winning poet Ciarán Hodgers, and featuring some special guest performances from the community, and local poets and writers, Levi Tafari, Greg Quiery, and rapper K. Find out how to share your work as part of LightNight or just sit back and enjoy the array of work being shared by signing up to the Zoom here.

Play with Fire by Bring the Fire Project

In-person at Black Lodge Brewing 

Join in with an extraordinary, adrenaline packed pre booked workshop to learn how to do basic tricks and manipulation with a fire sword or fire fan. Initially without fire, but then progressing to setting the props alight under the close supervision of our experienced instructors with full safety training. Booking is essential, as places are limited. A deposit is required, which will be refunded after you attend the workshop. 

My Favourite Place: Keith Medley Photographic Archive

My Favourite Place: Keith Medley Photographic Archive

Online

Join Liverpool John Moores University as they explore the Keith Medley Photographic Archive and encourage you to contribute your own memories and observations of these special places that live on in the hearts of Scousers. Keith Medley was a commercial photographer on Merseyside between 1949 and 1987. His Wallasey-based photographic business made him well-known in the area for his work as a wedding, portrait and press photographer.

Peace Doves

In-person at Liverpool Cathedral 

Liverpool Cathedral will stage an uplifting programme of musical performances, which will accompany Peace Doves, a large-scale art installation featuring over 20,000 paper doves suspended above the Well by sculptor and artist Peter Walker.

Give Us Work Not Dole: Meccano Factory presented by Central Library

19:00—20:00 Online talk with Q&A

Liverpool based Labour historian Dr. Greig Campbell will give a 30-minute talk that explores the little-known story of a rank-and-file workers’ occupation of Liverpool’s Meccano plant – the so-called Factory of Dreams. Using archival source material, comic book style illustrations and oral testimonies, Give Us Work Not Dole provides an intimate account of the 1979-80 fight to save the facility from closure – a campaign that represents one of the most remarkable chapters in Merseyside’s illustrious labour history. Find out more about the event here.

 

LightNight 2021 Play Paint The Sky by Despite the Monkey
Play Paint The Sky by Despite the Monkey

 

Paint The Sky by Despite the Monkey

20:00 – 22:00 at Liverpool Town Hall and online

Exploring the possibilities of play as creativity, Despite the Monkey invites you to join them at Liverpool Town Hall or online, as they enlist your help in constructing a digital mural of the city’s skyline. Take part by visiting them in Liverpool Town Hall’s majestic Council Chamber where they will be projecting the mural, or by going online and designing your own tile from wherever you may be.

Liverpool Biennial 2021: The Stomach and the Port

At Tate Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery, Bluecoat, FACT, Lush Building, Cotton Exchange, Lewis’s Building and Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building

Curated by Manuela Moscoso, The Stomach and the Port presents a total of 50 artists from 30 countries around the world with 150 works of art, including 47 new commissions. It explores concepts of the body, drawing on non-Western thinking where the body is seen as fluid, being continuously shaped by, and actively shaping its environment. 

Drawing Club with Laura-Kate Draws

18:00—19:30 Online via Zoom

Families are invited to a playful workshop full of fun activities, resulting in a series of character drawings and a mini zine. Bring your imaginations and let your creativity flow over your paper. Suited to children aged 5-12 years old, who should attend with a parent or guardian. Book tickets here.

Check out the full programme of free LightNight events at www.lightnightliverpool.co.uk

7 Events To Look Forward To In Liverpool This Summer

From open air cinema, to music festivals, art exhibitions and more, here’s 7 events you can’t miss this summer.

1. Abandon Normal Devices – AND Festival (27 May – 11 July)

Dazzle Ferry_Mersey Ferry

AND Festival will take place online, on docklands and on the water, featuring field trips in the physical world via augmented reality seascapes, immersive voyages and floating laboratories, expanded through an online programme of radical and disruptive artworks, film screenings, performances, talks and workshops.

2. Liverpool Biennial, The Inside Chapter (19 May – 27 June)

Liverpool Biennial Chapter 2

Liverpool Biennial 2021 opens the second ‘inside’ chapter of exhibitions across the city on 19 May, bringing together the complete presentation of the 11th edition, The Stomach and the Port. In line with Government guidance, this final chapter will open the doors to the city, welcoming visitors from across the country to safely enjoy the UK’s largest free festival of contemporary art. Artists will take over new venues, including Lewis’s Building, Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building, Lush Building, Liverpool Central Library and Cotton Exchange. New commissions and existing works will be shown at partner venues Tate Liverpool, FACT, Bluecoat and Open Eye Gallery.

3. Summer Arts Markets (5 & 19 June)

Summer Arts Market 2019 - Rhian Askins - DSC_2629

Discover the most popular craft fair in the region, featuring over 50 stalls from independent artists, designers, and makers.

Pop along to the Summer Arts Markets with your friends and family to shop for creative crafts, contemporary design and artisanal food and drink at affordable prices. You’ll be able to find everything from cards, photography, ceramics and prints, to jewellery, homewares, textiles and handmade beauty products.

4. Liverpool Disco Festival – Release Party (26 & 27 June)

 

Liverpool Disco Festival

Liverpool Disco Festival will make their debut at the Invisible Wind Factory in June for their Release Party. Featuring DJ’s Jeremy Underground, Dam Swindle, Marcel Vogel and more.

5. Super Cool Drawing Machine (15 – 18 July)

Super Cool Drawing Machine Future Yard Exhibition

Yuppies Music presents Super Cool Drawing Machine, a touring exhibition of musicians’ “other” artwork. The exhibition will take up residency at Future Yard between 15th and 18th July 2021.

Drawn from diverse musical genres and backgrounds, the artists include trailblazing saxophonist and figurehead of the UK jazz scene Shabaka Hutchings, Mercury-nominated Welsh singer/producer Cate Le Bon, experimental folk musician Richard Dawson, African American experimentalist Lonnie Holley (who has previously exhibited in the likes of the Turner Contemporary gallery), celebrated drummer/composer Seb Rochford and former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks, as well as members of This is The KitMammal HandsHaiku SalutSnapped Ankles and many more.

6. Open Air Cinema (Various locations & dates)

Film and Food Fest

We’ve got our fingers crossed for a hot summer as several open air cinema’s will be showing some classic films in some stunning outdoor locations. Film and Food Fest will roll into town from 12th – 15th August. Moonlight Flicks will take up residency at Claremont Farm from 29 May – 26 August. Plus there’s still a limited number of tickets available for Independent Liverpool’s Open Air Cinema at the Bombed Out Church in August.

7. Positive Vibration Festival (10 – 11 September)

Positive Vibration Festival 2021

The UK’s award-winning celebration of reggae music and Jamaican culture, Positive Vibration Festival returns to the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool in September. Confirmed artists include The Twinkle Brothers, Gentleman’s Dub Club, Hollie Cook, Don Letts and many more.

Check out our What’s On section for all the latest events happening in Liverpool.

Will arts & culture events continue online as well as in-person after Covid?

By Kitty Cooper

Liverpool Arts Bar Programming

 

As the world retreated into their homes at the beginning of the pandemic, so too did the artists, production teams and freelancers. 

But research from the Office for National Statistics shows that while more than 80% of arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food businesses were temporarily closed in the spring lockdown, just 55% closed in January 2021. The changes, they state, “are likely to be a result of businesses adapting, such as arts organisations streaming performances online”. 

Liverpool has always appealed to creatives as a mixing pot of live theatre, dance, music and events. So when that had to stop, Liverpool’s creators had to change tac too. 

We spoke to some of Liverpool’s events organisers, venues and artists about whether the future of culture and events is destined to remain online.

FACT

FACT Liverpool Gallery

“Over the past year we have worked with artists to challenge the concept of what a virtual event can look and feel like.”

FACT, an art gallery, cinema, bar and events space in Liverpool City Centre closed its doors in March; just two days away from the launch of a new exhibition. However, by May, they had set up a digital artist remote residency and now have all of their artworks available to experience online. 

Jess Fairclough, Marketing and Communications Manager at FACT said: “As restrictions are lifted and we navigate between the physical and virtual space, we are planning a programme that will happen inside and outside of FACT, and online.”

Despite looking forward to eventually “wandering through Bluecoat’s garden and galleries” and “basking in the sunlight and buzz on Bold Street”, Jess said the use of the virtual space helps to remove certain barriers, including financial hurdles and accessibility issues.

Mooncup Theatre

Mooncup Theatre (Photo Credit Kyle May Photography)
(Photo Credit: Kyle May Photography)

“As much as it was stressful to organise, once it was happening we felt such an overwhelming feeling of connection.”

Mooncup Theatre are a womXn led collective who use theatre to broadcast their political voice. Prior to the first lockdown, their “scran n scratch” project was running monthly and attracting a community of regulars they didn’t want to lose.

Mooncup said they were eventually able to carve out a virtual space to continue their project, which was essential for their mental health and wellbeing at a time when they had to “be separate from the people that you love and the ones that normally care for you.”

Producers of Mooncup Theatre, Rebecca Clarke and Martyna Puciato said the gradual use of technology had actually allowed people to “dip their toes in” from their own room. “You do have an outreach that you can’t normally have, the accessibility of the online world is unbelievable.” 

However, despite the benefits of the virtual space, Mooncup said they are looking forward to getting back into the rehearsal room. “Get some sweaty humans in a room – that would be great!”

Philharmonic Hall

Liverpool Philharmonic

“When it is safe to do so, it will be wonderful to have a hall that is full to capacity.”

For many venues and companies, lockdown meant grappling for grants and government support in place of revenue. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall usually presents 400 concerts and events each year. However, after their last concert on March 16, they were forced to close. 

Luckily, through a range of funding, they were able to hold online ‘In Conversation’ events and curate a series of On Demand performances for audiences to purchase and watch at home, allowing them to have unlimited capacity and interact with people all over the world.

For the time being they are planning a blended programme of live and On Demand performances but Head of Communications and External Affairs, Rachel Gaston, said: “When it is safe to do so it will be wonderful to have a Hall that is full to capacity and see a full Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir on the stage.”

Bongo’s Bingo

Bongos-Bingo-Liverpool

“We had to lose 95% of our team as our income was wiped out overnight”

Despite the success of many organisations in utilising virtual platforms to generate income during the pandemic, some event organisers were hit with further stumbling blocks. Bongo’s Bingo, who describe themselves as a “wild shared social extravaganza where everyone from 18 to 92 plays bingo and parties together” were hit particularly hard at the beginning of the pandemic, losing 95% of their team as the income from their events was “wiped out overnight”

Licensing issues prevented them from delivering bingo to an online audience. Jess Helliar, Operations Director, said: “We have been in the process of applying for this licence for 6 months now and it is still ongoing.”

Irrespective of these setbacks, they did host some online events to continue engagement with their regulars. Jess said: “I’d like to think that there is room for them to continue but in the initial phase of restrictions being lifted, I think there will be a decrease in attendance.” 

However, with restrictions easing and dates provisionally set for reopening, their in-person events are “selling out faster than they ever have before” which Jess said is “incredible to see.”

Sound City

Sound City Liverpool

“We’re really proud of the live events industry we have in the UK and it’s just been a really tough time across the board.”

Sound City, the leading independent festival showcase for new music in the UK had to postpone their yearly event three times this year due to the pandemic. Turning their attention to a new initiative, a live streaming platform called GuestHouse, they were able to help over 300 artists reach fans and raise an income. 

Becky Ayres, Managing Director of Soundcity said: “We’ve managed to innovate out of it to some extent but there’s a lot of people that work in the freelance live industry that are highly skilled professionals that have not been able to access any support.” 

Turning to online and hybrid events allowed them to continue to attract audiences and promote artists at a time when many were struggling. Becky said: “For people to be able to access things online and be able to engage with it not just physically is something that needs to be considered really by everyone that runs events. I think it’s really at its early stages and I think there’s a lot more development to come really.”

However, there is no doubt that they are looking forward to the future of live, in-person events. “It will be great for people’s mental health and also for the live industry to continue to do what they do best which is to put on really amazing shows.”

Liverpool Arts Bar

Liverpool Arts Bar Zuzu

“If arts venues aren’t thinking of continuing online events, they should really reassess.”

Despite partial, gradually increased support for some venues and organisations, funding sources weren’t accessible for everyone in the industry. The Liverpool Arts Bar, a venue on Hope Street focussed on showcasing the arts, had only opened their doors nine months before the lockdown. This meant that they did not have a full years’ accounts to make them eligible for any schemes. 

Director of the Arts Bar, Alex Medlicott said: “We just missed the cut off. What we had to do instead was keep ourselves going online, try and sell things like merchandise online and try and do events.” 

Despite a seemingly desperate situation, Alex said that not having access to the grants meant they had to become creative and rather than close up and wait, they took the opportunity to grow their social media. “People have said “you’re killing your own audience off”, but you want to catch those people who are sitting at home on a Friday night, seeing that the gig is on, seeing that the place is buzzing and wanting to go there next Friday because it looks great.” 

Far from shutting their laptops as soon as pubs reopen, the Arts Bar said: “It’s the one thing we’d take away from this, if arts venues aren’t thinking of continuing online events they should really reassess.”

 

Though utilising virtual spaces in some cases is not practical, possible even, in many others, it seems the possibilities of hybrid events are only at the beginning. What the future of the entertainment industry will look like is unclear, with many factors affecting the industry as we once knew it. One thing is for sure though, the industry innovated its way out of a desperate situation, evolving into something new and exciting and those boundaries will surely continue to be pushed.

Creative Activities To Keep Kids Entertained

Online Activities To Keep Kids Entertained

 

Here’s our guide to some fun online activities to keep the kids entertained.

1 Tate Kids

The Tate has a dedicated kids zone on their website where you’ll find a range of activities to keep your kids busy. There’s plenty of workshops like Make A Kaleidoscope, Make A Friendship Bracelet, Learn To Weave and much more. There’s also quizzes and games including Which Art Superhero Are You?, The Sensational Surrealism Quiz and more. Plus, there’s videos and galleries to explore and learn more about specific artists. Guaranteed to keep the kids occupied for hours!

2 BBC Bitesize

Even with the kids back in school, BBC Bitesize is still a great resource for learning all year round. Their games and quizzes help make learning more fun and interactive, alongside the lessons. There’s also a really useful Support section featuring health and wellbeing guides and tips. 

3 Education.com Activities

Education.com has tons of activities tailored to different ages. There’s something here for everyone, including Design Your Own Planet, Make A Cereal Box House, Make A Catapult and much more.

 

Africa Oye Learning & Participation
Africa Oyé Learning & Participation Class

 

4 Africa Oyé: Learning & Participation Classes

Africa Oyé  have launched the first in an online series of Learning and Participation workshops. Watch as worldwide performer Guy Nwogang as he talks you through some Cameroonian rhythms in this premiere episode.

5 Western Approaches Online Classes

Learn all about the history of Liverpool’s WW2 bunker at Western Approaches with lessons, activities and virtual tours. Aimed at primary school children their informative lessons are available to watch via YouTube any time.

6 Liverpool Year of Writing

Liverpool’s 2021 Year of Writing is a celebration of writing in all its forms designed to discover new voices and publish new writing through a partnership of arts and cultural organisations, writers, artists, educators and businesses as part of an inclusive drive to improve literacy in the city. There’s a whole range of activities aimed at children of all ages, such as writing competitions; Letters to Liverpool; Sharing/Caring words; Writing for online games; Coding and Make-fests; blogging and book reviews; Zine making workshops and the creation of new Zines by children and young people.

You can also find fun family activities and events in our What’s On section.

Liverpool Biennial: The Outside Chapter Preview

Larry Achiampong, Pan African Flag For The Relic Travellers' Alliance (Ascension), 2017. Courtesy the artist and Copperfield, London
Larry Achiampong, Pan African Flag For The Relic Travellers’ Alliance (Ascension), 2017. Courtesy the artist and Copperfield, London

 

Liverpool Biennial opened the first chapter of their 11th edition, The Stomach and the Port, on 20 March with a major series of outdoor sculpture, sonic and digital commissions, alongside the new Biennial Online Portal.

The Stomach and the Port (20 March to 6 June) is curated by Manuela Moscoso and showcases the work of 50 leading, and emerging, artists and collectives from 30 countries around the world, including 47 new commissions for the Liverpool Biennial.

The theme exploring concepts of the body, with the Biennial drawing on non-Western thinking that challenges our understanding of the individual as a defined, self-sufficient, entity. Instead, the body is seen as fluid, being continuously shaped by, and actively shaping its environment.

At the heart of the theme is Liverpool: a city which was an active agent in the process of modernisation and change but which also played a role in the foundation of colonialism. Through the visible and invisible dynamics of Liverpool’s historic port, this Biennial envisions different forms of being human and explores what bodies have the potential to be.

The Outside Chapter

The ‘outside’ chapter brings together the exterior elements of the Biennial. New sculptures and installations located at strategic outdoor sites across Liverpool will celebrate the city centre’s iconic architecture and public spaces.

Larry Achiampong’s Pan African Flags For the Relic Travellers’ Alliance forms part of Relic Traveller, a multi-disciplinary project that builds upon a postcolonial perspective. Displayed across 10 sites within the city centre, the series of flags will comprise the original set of 4, with each design featuring 54 stars to represent the 54 countries of Africa, along with a new set to be shown for the 2021 Biennial. Symbolically, they highlight Pan African identity, while the colours green, black and red reflect the land, its people and the struggles the continent has endured, respectively. The field of yellow gold represents a new day and prosperity.

Rashid Johnson’s large-scale sculpture Stacked Heads (2020) at Canning Dock Quayside is formed with two distinct head parts in the style of a totem. Made from bronze and furnished with yucca and cacti plants, the work takes inspiration from his series of drawings Anxious Men (2015-ongoing). Selected for their endurance to harsh winds and saline water, the plants resilience and the work’s waterfront location negotiates Liverpool’s transatlantic histories while keeping prescient contemporary concerns at its core.

A major new billboard by Linder, located within Liverpool ONE, will form part of her Bower of Bliss (2021) constellation that has its origins in a copy of Oz magazine, which she bought at the Bickershaw Festival in 1972. The centuries old phrase “Bower of Bliss” refers to the birthplace, the point of origin and safety. For the poet Edmund Spenser, the “Bower of Bliss” meant “womb”. For Linder, the connotations link back to her experience of being carried in her mother’s womb in Liverpool in 1954 and her billboard presents the “Bower of Bliss” as a safe, deeply pleasurable space, needed now more than ever.

 

Liverpool Biennial 2021

On the side of Bluecoat, Jorgge Menna Barreto’s Mauvais Alphabet (2021) has been made in collaboration with students from Liverpool John Moores University and local mural artist, Anna Jane Houghton. Documenting weeds and wild edibles found in Liverpool, Barreto presents the types of plant that thrive naturally in local conditions as our associate, rather than product. Through eating and foraging locally, we can learn more about the place we inhabit and the local stories which are read not necessarily by the brain but by the stomach.

Osteoclast (I do not know how I came to be on board this ship, this navel of my ark) (2021) by Teresa Solar is composed of five kayaks, each sculpture reflecting the shape of a human bone. Positioned outside Exchange Flags, it is anchored on the maritime history of Liverpool, the installation draws parallels between bones – carriers of tissues, veins and cell communities, message pathways – and vessels, vehicles of migration, transmitters and connectors of bodies and knowledge. In contrast to the ships that are built and docked in Merseyside, Solar’s kayaks, turned into a disarticulated skeleton, set the body at sea level, evoking our fragility over the sea while simultaneously celebrating our human capacity for transition and transformation.

At Crown Street Park, La Pensée Férale (2021) by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané features a replica of a Pau Rei, a native tree of the Brazilian Mata Atlántica, imbedded with the eye of an Indian pariah dog from Bangladesh, and surrounded by newly planted Fagus Purpurea Pendula trees. Mangrané’s installations query humanity’s position in the world – eroding the Western conceptions of being which separate the world into opposing dualisms, such as nature and culture. La Pensée Férale raises questions about subjectivity as a cultural construction as well as our attitude towards the environment, reinforcing that nature is not without perception or feeling.

The Biennial Online Portal

The Biennial Online Portal will underpin the physical festival, introducing each artist taking part in tandem with an exploration of the broader entry points to The Stomach and the Port. Gathering the artists practices under three ideas, the entry points  – stomach, porosity and kin – present different ways of thinking about and linking the artworks across the Biennial.

To celebrate the opening of the first chapter of the Liverpool Biennial 2021, the six-part podcast series Art Against the World, hosted by Vid Simoniti and co-produced with the University of Liverpool. The first episode was released on 17 March.

Starting on 24 March, The Refracted Body, a film programme curated by Margarida Mendes, explores the resonant power of communal voices and their ability to evoke resilience against resource and labour extraction.

Looking ahead to 6 April, Liverpool Biennial 2021 will broadcast a discussion with curator Manuela Moscoso, artists Neo Muyanga and Xaviera Simmons and leading Liverpool academics, to investigate the creative stimulus of the city on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking, which will also be available as a BBC Arts & Ideas podcast.

Liverpool Biennial 2021 The Stomach & The Port

Sonic and digital commissions hosted on the Biennial Online Portal

Ines Doujak, in collaboration with John Barker, will explore the social and cultural history of pandemics in Transmission: A series of five Podcasts on Disease and Pandemics in a Distorted World (2021).

Artists UBERMORGEN, digital humanist Leonardo Impett and curator Joasia Krysa present the first iteration of The Next Biennial Should be Curated by a Machine, an experiment in reimagining the future of curating in the light of Artificial Intelligence.

KeKeÇa Body Percussion Ensemble will deliver a series of interactive performances at key moments during the Biennial. Acknowledging the body as a place of lived experience, audiences will be encouraged to participate using their own bodies as percussive instruments.

 

Liverpool Biennial 2021: The Stomach and the Port takes place 20 March –  6 June 2021

For more information visit www.biennial.com   

Why Our Lockdown Boredom is Actually Good for Us

Why Our Lockdown Boredom Is Actually Good For Us Uncover Liverpool

Bored of being bored

It may feel like we’ve been on one long slog since last March. There’s been little opportunity to do what we would usually enjoy doing, like going on holiday, attending festivals, eating in our favourite restaurants or visiting art galleries. So, the vast majority of us have probably experienced some level of boredom or fatigue which stems from doing the same activities over and over again.

Additionally, in this modern world our social structure coupled with new technological advancements have us living life at a fast pace. We are expected to think more, do more and achieve more every day. Our brains are constantly overstimulated so it’s no surprise that when we take a moment away from our fast paced routine to do nothing, the feeling of boredom sets in. We’re left feeling agitated and restless.

The benefits of boredom

The positive news is that as we unwillingly go through this boredom-inducing routine there is scientific research to suggest that boredom could actually be a good thing. A study published in the journal Academy of Management Discoveries, uncovered that boredom can spark productivity and creativity.

Our bored state can provide the space we require to think more clearly and when the lockdown lifts we could find ourselves eager to engage with the real world. 

Dr Sandi Mann, a researcher at the University of Central Lancashire elaborated on this theory when she discussed the effects of boredom. Mann stated that “If you ask people to do nothing, to the point where they get really bored, they then become creative and start thinking in novel and productive ways. The lockdown could turn out to be one of the world’s most creative times ever.”

 

Why Our Lockdown Boredom Is Actually Good For Us - Together, We Create

 

A Creative Explosion

Neuroscientist, James Danckert, and psychologist, John D. Eastwood, in their new book Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom describe boredom as “a cognitive state that has something in common with tip-of-the-tongue syndrome—a sensation that something is missing, though we can’t quite say what.” Could it be that this sensation, this something that is sitting on the tip of our tongue, be the creative explosion we must experience through lockdown boredom? We are all guilty at one point or another of saying we will do more positive things that fulfil us, if only we had more free time.

Boredom gives us more time to contemplate, letting our brains idle and let new ideas emerge. We might want to take that online course, which may lead to a change in career path. Maybe through boredom we could learn how to take existing skills and apply them in an online format, which gives us a creative outlet, a new focus, some income and newly gained confidence in our ‘suppressed skills’.

A desire for desires

Boredom gives us the realisation, the quiet time to stop and think and to be grateful for the spare time we do have now to make a change. Now that we have more time to think about the things we could do when we are once again pandemic free, it will encourage us to beat boredom in lockdown. It gives us hope, but it may also urge us to apply ourselves and instead of being bored, it may spark something in us and push us to investigate these desires we have.

Writer Leo Tolstoy defined boredom as “a desire for desires.”  So, how about we embrace the moments we have now in lockdown to search for our desires though the frustrating feelings of boredom. Your brain will thank you for it and so will the world once we are free to do the things we miss the most.

10 Arts & Culture TED Talks To Leave You Feeling Inspired

Ted Talks

The arts and culture sector has faced a tough battle over the last 12 months, with the Covid-19 pandemic having a profound affect on cultural institutions and organisations.

Exhibitions, events, and live performances were in the most part cancelled or postponed and we’ve been starved of many of the activities that we would have previously took for granted. So, we’ve put together some of the best arts and culture TED talks to leave you feeling inspired and creative.

1. Give yourself permission to be creative – Ethan Hawke

Reflecting on moments that shaped his life, actor Ethan Hawke examines how courageous expression promotes healing and connection with one another — and invites you to discover your own unabashed creativity. We recommend pairing this TED talk with a read of Creative Fatigue: The dangers of the productivity warrior narrative by Liverpool artist Becky Downing.

2. The Transformative role of art during the pandemic – Anne Paternak

Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum, makes the case for cultural institutions to take a leading role in supporting the world’s recovery from COVID-19 — and shows how, in times of turmoil and disruption, the arts help us come together, heal and rebuild a better society. 

3. How drawing can set you free – Shantell Martin

Shantell Martin shares how she found freedom and a new perspective through art. See how drawing can connect your hand to your heart and deepen your connection with the world.

4. How we experience time and memory through art – Sarah Sze

Explore how we give meaning to objects in this beautiful tour of Sarah Sze’s experiential, multimedia art.

5. How film transforms the way we see the world – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Documentarian and TED Fellow Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy uses her Oscar-winning film to fight violence against women, turning her camera on the tradition of honor killings in Pakistan. In a stirring talk, she shares how she took her film on the road in a mobile cinema, visiting small towns and villages across Pakistan — and shifting the dynamics between women, men and society, one screening at a time.

6. How craving attention makes you less creative – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

As social media exploded over the past decade, Joseph Gordon-Levitt got addicted like the rest of us — trying to gain followers and likes only to be left feeling inadequate and less creative. In a refreshingly honest talk, he explores how the attention-driven model of big tech companies impacts our creativity — and shares a more powerful feeling than getting attention: paying attention.

7. Public art that turns cities into playgrounds of the imagination – Helen Marriage

Visual artist Helen Marriage stages astonishing, large-scale public art events that expand the boundaries of what’s possible. In this visual tour of her work, she tells the story of three cities she transformed into playgrounds of the imagination — picture London with a giant mechanical elephant marching through it — and shows what happens when people stop to marvel and experience a moment together.

8. Life is your talents discovered – Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson argues that talent is often buried and that we need to search for it. In fact, the foundation of wisdom may be the willingness to go and look for it.

9. How to build a thriving music scene in your city – Elizabeth Cawein

How does a city become known as a “music city”? Publicist Elizabeth Cawein explains how thriving music scenes make cities healthier and happier and shares ideas for bolstering your local music scene — and showing off your city’s talent to the world.

10. How a strong creative industry helps economies thrive – Mehret Mandefro

Mehret Mandefro says the creative sector has the power to grow economies — while also helping safeguard democracy. In this captivating talk, she shares a behind-the-scenes look at how she’s putting culture back on the economic agenda in Ethiopia, and explains why other countries would benefit from doing the same.

7 Fun Activities To Do Online During Lockdown

7 Fun activities to do online during lockdown

So, we find ourselves in another national lockdown but we’ve learnt a lot since last March and we’ve adapted well to these periods of self-isolation. We certainly don’t need to feel isolated with the abundance of virtual events and activities to keep us busy. Here’s some great online activities that you can enjoy from the comfort of your couch.

1. Movema free dance classes

If you’re feeling a bit lethargic spending so much time around the house then Movema’s dance classes are a great way to get moving and will create some fun in your day. Their free Dance For Wellbeing classes are suitable for any ability. The sessions are guaranteed to put a smile on your face and leave you feeling more energetic throughout the day.

2. Digital Drink and Draw

If you enjoy doodling and sketching and want the chance to do some life drawing in a friendly relaxed atmosphere then check out the Make Liverpool Digital Drink & Draw classes, which take place via Zoom. All abilities are welcome to their sessions and the informal approach means that you can take your drawing in whichever direction you like.

3. Play at home Escape Rooms 

You can escape from reality in more ways than one with online escape room games and Liverpool’s Breakout and Escape Hunt both offer online, interactive games that you can play with your friends and family remotely.

4. Visit Liverpool’s ‘Activities To Do At Home’

Visit Liverpool has a resource hub with a whole range of activities to keep you entertained. There’s a series of Liverpool-related quizzes such as Everton and Liverpool FC, famous scousers and Liverpool general knowledge quizzes. The print at home colouring sheets can keep you busy for hours, colouring in famous Liverpool landmarks, plus there’s word searches and other activities that are fun for all the family and perfect for a rainy day. 

5. Knowsley Safari Park: Home Safari Live

The Knowsley Safari home safari live team will show you a live stream of the animals in the safari school as well as behind the scenes footage around the safari park. There will be activities that you can do at home too. You can send comments to get your questions answered by the team and find out more about the animals at Knowsley.

6. The Florrie Guitar Online Takeover

The Florrie usually hosts guitar lessons from their Toxteth home, but in the meantime they’ve added a series of videos to their YouTube channel where various local musicians, including Jamie Webster and James Skelly teach you how to play a song of their choosing. The lessons are perfect for those who are intermediate guitar players and want to add some new songs to their repertoire.

7. 35 Ways To Upcycle Everything Around You – Best Recycling Life Hacks Video

This video by 5 Minute Crafts will have you upcycling household items that you probably would never even have thought to! We’re sure you’ll find some inspiration from the ideas here to keep you busy for a while.

Visit our What’s On section to browse event listings for the Liverpool City Region or add your own.