Bluecoat Liverpool: A Historical Gem In The Heart Of The City

By Radka Hostašová

The Bluecoat Liverpool

Liverpool city centre is a bustling hub of shoppers, food and drink enthusiasts, culture seekers and tourists, mixing together to create a vibrant atmosphere. Just a stones throw away from two of the biggest shopping destinations in the city; Church Street and Liverpool ONE, you’ll find the calm oasis of the contemporary arts centre, the Bluecoat. By leaving the noise of the city behind and entering the iconic front yard of the Bluecoat, it can feel like taking a step back in time.

In fact, the Bluecoat, located on the School Lane, is listed as the oldest building in Liverpool city centre. Built in the early 18th century, the Bluecoat first served the purpose of a charity school for poor children. However, after moving the school to Wavertree, the Bluecoat was on the verge of demolition several times. Fortunately, thanks to a successful funding campaign, the building, with such distinctive architecture, has survived and since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been a home for the arts.

These days, the Bluecoat is defined as a contemporary arts centre that offers a space for artists to create and exhibit and for audiences to experience their work. Through its extensive programme and a focus on the community, the Bluecoat aims to make art an inclusive and accessible medium.  Moreover, the Bluecoat invests in the dynamic development of the arts while constantly reflecting on its past heritage and creatively responding to it. The programme at the Bluecoat consists of regular exhibitions, family workshops, dance performances, and literature readings.

The Bluecoat is currently accommodating nearly 30 artists residencies, who use the centre’s on-site studios to create illustrations, digital installations, pieces of fashion, or physical performances.

Besides supporting outstanding contemporary artists, the venue also functions as a base for several local businesses. There’s Roots Houseplants, an independent plant shop for anyone looking to add some greenery to their home, Kernaghan Books, the iconic Probe Records and Florianni bridal and evening dress boutique and more.

Also housed within the Bluecoat’s building is the Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool’s independent contemporary craft gallery. The Display Centre exhibits and sells some of the finest work made by professional craftspeople from the North West, across the British Isles and beyond and is recognised nationally and internationally as one of the UK’s leading galleries specialising in contemporary applied arts.

As a part of the programme to broaden the creative community, the Bluecoat also organises a number of projects targeting different groups of audiences. For instance, whereas Out of the Bluecoat is a creative club for children running across schools in Liverpool, Blue Room is a project that involves adults with learning disabilities, who get to experience art in the gallery as well as create their own artwork. And finally, alongside on-site and off-site projects, the Bluecoat regularly participates in the UK’s leading festival of contemporary art – Liverpool Biennial.

While the front side of the building mesmerises its visitors with a unique architectural design, the back yard surprises them with a beautiful secret garden. The Bluecoat’s garden is attached to the venue’s café, so customers can enjoy their food and drink surrounded by greenery in the peaceful tranquility. You could easily forget that you’re still in the heart of the city centre. But rather than a flawless lawn and perfectly trimmed hedges, the Bluecoat’s garden is a tangle of bushes and flowers providing privacy to the benches standing around them. In other words, the garden simply serves as a little getaway from the rush of the busy city centre streets.

A visit to the Bluecoat Liverpool promises a unique and inspiring experience. The doors of the venue are open to the public every day, however, particular events require booking tickets in advance. Visit https://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/ to find out more.

Shining The Spotlight On Local Makers And Small Businesses

By Radka Hostašová

Liverpool Local Makers and Small Businesses

Upon exploring Liverpool’s independent stores, local markets and online stores you realise that there are so many outstanding creatives and unique small businesses representing Liverpool art’s community. Here, we’ll introduce you to just a handful of some of the most amazing makers and their work. 

Ceramics & Pottery

Aura Living Homeware

Aura Living Homeware is currently one of the leading artists in pottery craft. Applying a minimalistic style, this local business specialises in ceramic plates, bowls, and mugs, all connected by neutral tones. Additionally, a considerable part of Aura Living’s products are made using the terazzo technique – tossing marble chips into a cement mixture to create mozaic-looking dishes. 

BluBeau

Amongst local businesses, BluBeau stands out with its playful ceramics using cute animal motives. Together with unique pieces of jewellery, BlueBeau offers ceramic pots, jewellery holders, and other home decorations shaped in animal figures, using simplistic, innocent design.

Clay Elm 

Clay Elm is a small batch pottery studio based in Toxteth. Their beautiful, sophisticated pieces are significant for their symmetric lines combined with neutral tones and shades of blue. 

Jewellery 

Shadow & Line 

Shadow & Line is one of many local businesses focusing on handmade jewellery. However, their source of inspiration stands out as their silver jewellery is inspired by urban architecture, shadows and reflections to inform new minimal shapes and textures in pieces, with an emphasis on geometric shapes. 

Aloë Earrings 

On the other hand, Aloë Earrings could be considered the opposite of minimalism, using a wide range of colours and patterns to create original handmade earrings. Each of their limited collections features different colour combinations and shapes, spreading a cheerful vibe of a holiday, adventure and freedom. 

Macramé

Knots & Xs 

Macramé craft has recently started to gain more and more popularity in the maker’s community, especially due to its positive effect on people’s mental health, as it makes for a great mindfulness activity. Knots & Xs decided that rather than selling finished macramé products, they will enter the market with creative kits including pre-cut cords as well as step-by-step instructions. The kits are perfect for anybody who wants to get crafty and make their own macramé decoration.

Knotty Potty

Similarly, Knotty Potty is a small business producing beautiful macramé pieces, such as hanging pots, bags and small accessories. There is no way you would miss their stall at local craft markets as their extensive display sparkles with pieces of various colours and sizes. 

Fabric & Leather

Ruby Sparrow

Ruby Sparrow is a true goddess of Liverpool. Her bohemian, indie-style pieces of clothes evoke freedom and travelling – physical as well as spiritual. Ruby Sparrow’s clothes are made from sustainably sourced fabrics, bringing the spirit of far east cultures to customers in the UK. 

Rawhide Custom

Liverpool’s leather craft is proudly represented by Rawhide Custom. Their range of handmade products includes wallets, luggage tags, keychains and more. The mission of Rawhide Custom is to enhance the local market with unique, personalised, sustainably sourced leather items while using the traditional method of veg tanning the leather, one of the oldest methods of tanning known to man.

Sound City 2022: Preview

This year marks the 15th Anniversary of Sound City, the Liverpool music festival which has provided the city with some truly unforgettable music moments. 

Sound City 2022 Photo Credit Sam McMahon
Sound City 2022 Photo Credit Sam McMahon

Emerging across the streets of Liverpool back in 2008 as a heralded celebration of new and exciting music, Sound City has become an essential date in the diary for music fans far and wide to come together and discover the sounds of the future. 

Its storied alumni who have made those first steps at Sound City reads as a who’s who of the biggest and brightest names in modern music (from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, The xx, Alt-J and Courtney Barnett to The Wombats, Royal Blood, Catfish & The Bottlemen and many more). 

Continuing to champion and elevate the sounds that’ll come to define the years ahead, the festival has provided a spotlight for thousands of local, independent musicians and bands to perform to large crowds, supporting well-established national and international acts.

Here we’ll take a closer look at the 2022 festival line up starting with the headliners.

Sound City 2022: The Headliners

Sound City 2022 Preview - The Lathums
The Lathums

The Lathums

The Lathums have had a meteoric rise to fame over the last few years. The Wigan quartet released their debut album, How Beautiful Life Can Be, a week before Sound City 2021 and performed on stage with their #1 Album trophy on the Sunday of the festival! It’s impossible not to love The Lathums and their infectiously catchy songs. Do not miss them!

Self Esteem

Previously an indie-folk singer with Slow Club, Rebecca Lucy Taylor is now a fully fledged pop superstar, performing under the name of Self Esteem. The inspiration for her stage name comes from Taylor’s growing confidence over the years. Taylor now feels like her authentic self, with RnB influences, electro-beats and personal and highly relatable lyrics.

Ones To Watch

Yard Act

Leeds band, Yard Act, are set for an incredible year following their majorly successful debut album release. The politically charged album, entitled The Overload, reached number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and has since scored the band some high profile gigs including Sound City and Coachella Festival.

Alfie Templeman

Growing up around music, Alfie Templeman had an early start to his career, producing and releasing demos at just 13 years of age. He burst onto the professional scene as a solo artist in 2018, and has since released four EPs under Chess Club Records. Templeman’s debut album, Mellow Moon, is set for release on 27th May.

Sad Boys Club 

Indie Rock, Emo-influenced four-piece, Sad Boys Club, are back for their second appearance at Sound City. The London-based band recently released an EP, I’m Not Afraid of The Death (But I Am Afraid of The Dying), and they are excited to play some of the tracks to the Sound City crowd. Check out our full interview with them here.

Sound City 2022 Preview - Brooke Combe
Brooke Combe

Brooke Combe

Edinburgh’s Brooke Combe rose to social media stardom as a bedroom cover artist following a string of viral cover videos. A whirlwind of opportunities such as signing contracts and working with big names in Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios soon followed, eventually leading to the release of the songstress’ debut original single, Are You With Me? With a repertoire of original music and professionally recorded covers under her belt, Combe is sure to set Sound City alight.

CRAWLERS

Another one for the Emos, CRAWLERS have skyrocketed over the last year. The Alt-Rock band from Merseyside have built up an adoring, loyal and diverse fanbase that the band credit their success to. Already this year, CRAWLERS have signed to Polydor Records and secured a support slot for the Warrington date of the long-awaited My Chemical Romance reunion tour. 

Sound City 2022 – The Details

Sound City 2022 takes place in Liverpool across the weekend of 30th April – 1st May for a monster of a 15th Anniversary celebration. 

After a brief relocation to Bramley Moore Docks, the festival returns to its roots, taking over city centre venues to host a mammoth amount of the hottest names in new music. Jimmys, EBGBs, Arts Club and Kazimier Stockroom are amongst the many local venues involved in this year’s festival. 

The Charlatans’ legend Tim Burgess is also bringing back Tim Peaks Diner, a Sound City staple, to showcase some hand-selected emerging artists. And if there’s still gas in your tank after a jam-packed day of live music, there will also be a selection of Sound City after parties to choose from to take you into the early hours.

At just £55 for the full weekend, Sound City 2022 tickets are on their last release, so grab yours here before they’re gone!

Liverpool Against Racism: A Brand New Festival Happening This Month

By Radka Hostašová

Liverpool Against Racism Festival April 2022

Artistic expression remains one of the most crucial ways for society to raise awareness of, criticise and protest against injustices, politics and inequality. We’ve seen how powerful art can be and art in many different forms can be used to communicate the pain and injustice of racism. By using different media and platforms, artists can address a broad audience and initiate a dialogue in society. This month Liverpool will introduce a new festival, Liverpool Against Racism, which aims to do just that.

Running from the 23rd – 30th of April, Liverpool Against Racism is built upon similar principles as the Black Lives Matter movement. Liverpool Against Racism will stimulate a conversation about, and action against, racism. With a focus on community cohesion, it will act as a platform for people and organisations to creatively respond to hate crime.

The festival will also focus on love, togetherness and a sense of community, with the purpose of not only to raising awareness of the past, but also to bring more brightness to the future.

Liverpool Against Racism Festival Programme

The festival programme consists of various events taking place across the city. There’s live talks and debates as well as music and cultural events, featuring a diverse line up of local, national and international individuals and organisations who are invested in the charge for change.

Music Day

The Liverpool Against Racism programme kicks-off with an impressive one-day music showcase on 24th April, which will take over venues in the Baltic area of the city showcasing over 40 local talented musicians from different cultural backgrounds.

Camp & FurnaceDistrict and 24 Kitchen Street will play host to some incredible Liverpool acts including The ChristiansThe FarmJohn PowerGreg WilsonLÅPSLEY and Sense of Sound, with more to be announced soon.

Tickets cost £5 + booking fee, per person, per venue. Full details and tickets are available here.

Conference 

The festival’s conference, on 26th April, will feature a day of live talks and debates centred around art, culture, sport, media, fashion and business. A BAFTA winning film-maker and historian, an ITV news anchor, a former professional boxer and a critically acclaimed American author are just some of the people coming together in Liverpool to address the issue of racism.

Led by Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, she will be joined by presenter and historian David Olusoga OBE, Loose Women and news anchor Charlene White, activist and journalist Kevin Powell and former boxer turned actor Tony Bellew.

The main conference is hosted at The Spine and brings together contributors on a local, national and international level. Tickets for the full day conference cost just £20 + booking fee per person. Details of all ‘Sessions’ can be viewd here.

Youth Empower Conference

In partnership with the Anthony Walker Foundation and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), a Youth Summit will take place at LJMU Student Union on Friday 29th April, in collaboration with the Equality & Outreach Teams.

Find out more about the Youth Empower Conference here.

Partner Events

Alongside the Music Day and Conference, several venues and institutions, such as Liverpool John Moores University, Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, and Writing On The Wall will be delivering partner events. There’s everything from walking tours and poetry workshops right through to skating festivals and talks around understanding the Liverpool’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. 

The Everyman Theatre becomes a space to connect distinct cultures through art, food, and open discussion, John Moores University gives an opportunity for teenagers to talk about their perception of racism and discrimination. And finally, a considerable part of the festival is engaged in exploring Liverpool as a past centre of the slave trade and emphasizing its impact on the lives of millions of people.

Find out more about the Partner Events here.

Overall, the first season of the Liverpool Against Racism festival has a lot to offer. It creates the space for communities to speak up and for the public to listen.

To find out more about Liverpool Against Racism visit www.cultureliverpool.co.uk/liverpool-against-racism/

Make CIC: The Heart Of The Maker’s Community In Liverpool

By Radka Hostašová

Make Liverpool CIC

An important part of a practicing artist’s life is meeting with other creatives and interacting with audiences. In the case of musicians, their meeting points are frequently concert halls or other venues for rehearsals and public performances. A similar situation applies to dancers, actors or singers, whose gatherings are more than essential to collaborate on collective shows. But how about the ones who focus on visual arts and handcraft? The work of those artists is sometimes produced from home-based studios, commonly made up of an overloaded table in a tiny corner of the house. It could be said that these kind of working conditions might add a bit of loneliness to the creative process. 

However, along with other areas of art and culture, Liverpool values the contribution of local artists, makers and creators, by providing them with dedicated spaces to create, meet each other, collaborate and promote their work. And there is no doubt that Make CIC proudly stands amongst these creative spaces. Established in 2012, Make has become one of the popular community hubs for artists and local businesses, integrating various fields, such as drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, embroidery, and woodcraft. 

Established in 2012, Make Liverpool has come a long way having expanded their base in the Baltic Triangle with two more venues – one located in the North Docks and the latest hub opened in Hamilton Square, Wirral. Another milestone for the growth of the organisation will be marked this year with the opening of a new creative space in Huyton Village, dedicated to connecting creatives in the Knowsley area. 

Looking at the concept of the centre, Make’s programme stands on three main pillars – create, connect and educate. Firstly, while using the extensive workspace of all three current venues, Make accommodates more than thirty resident artists, who can use the space to create as well as store and exhibit their work. Hiring a studio is a great solution for makers whose work involves the use of heavier equipment and requires a more industrial setting. Yet, it is also an affordable way for up and coming artists to take those first steps in their career and gain more confidence while running their own studio.

Giving an opportunity to local artists goes hand in hand with supporting the growth of independent businesses. With its community-focused plan, Make hosts regular meetings to provide guidance to less experienced makers and help implement their visions. Besides the mentoring sessions, the organisation has recently listed networking events to encourage the community members to teach, learn and exchange skills. After all, networking is one of the keys to establishing a successful business. 

And finally, a considerable part of the programme consists of a variety of workshops and courses, such as Drink and Draw, Introduction to Woodwork, Mindful Macramé, or Green Fingers – teaching the basics of plant care. It is important to note that creative classes are open to the maker’s community as well as to the public. Everyone thinking of kicking off a creative hobby, from traditional crafts to digital art, can join the classes. The warm and welcoming environment of Make intends to break the barriers of those who hesitate to start a creative journey and ensures their wellbeing. 

The Make venues host many more events on a regular basis, as well as hosting or one-off and pop-up events. Their Summer and Winter Arkade Markets provide a boost for the shop-small economy in the Liverpool City Region by bringing talented local makers to present and sell their products. Sustainability and independence stand at the forefront of the organisation’s strategy. With their constantly-developing mission to support the maker’s scene, Make Liverpool holds a significant role in Liverpool’s art and cultural field.

To find out more about Make visit https://makecic.org/

Why I Love Visiting Liverpool’s Galleries

By Rhiannon Lewis

Tate Liverpool

When I was a student here in Liverpool, the galleries were spaces I often escaped to for peaceful and reflective solitude.

There is often this idea that galleries are for ‘certain types’ of people. While being educated in the arts, or growing up with it gives a familiarity to venturing into those spaces, it’s not a prerequisite in any way to being able to understand, not least enjoy it. In fact, when you walk into a gallery wondering what on earth the exhibit is about, even laughing at it, this can be interesting in itself.

Below are listed the galleries I often enjoy a moment alone in, or trail around in with friends (all free, of course).

The Gallery at FACT 

This one is perhaps a bit tucked away, but always worth going to because I love that the space feels like a complete escape from the outside world. A couple of darkened rooms that are transformed with every turn of the gallery season. I used to go to the same exhibits again and again during my student days, picking up snippets of the artists’ stories and perspectives, but mostly enjoying sitting down on whatever seating they had (from sofas in front of projected realities, beanbags and even swivelling armchairs connected to virtual reality headsets), just taking in the 360 immersive experience 

The complex has two gallery spaces, a café/bar and a cinema that shows a lot of arthouse stuff. I recommend going in the day and just soaking everything in, or going in the evening and having a bit of a culture feast.

The Gallery at FACT: 88 Wood St, Liverpool L1 4DQ. Opens at 11am, closing times vary.

Tate Liverpool 

The exhibit here I usually like the most is the one on the bottom floor (one of the free ones gives me a sense of enjoyment in itself). They dress up the space completely different each time- once a sound-bath experience in a darkened ‘cave’, a collection of dresses larger than life, looking like architectural structures, another, huge sheets hanging from the ceiling splashed with crazy colours (the artist’s experience living in the rainforest). I don’t always find the story of the work hugely accessible, but I enjoy just popping in (often with friends) to discuss, to laugh. It’s nice, even, just being in a big room, especially if you’re early twenties and used to being cooped up in small rental apartments. 

Tate Liverpool: Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4BB. Open 10-5:30pm (closed on Mondays). 

Open Eye Gallery 

This one is also a bit tucked away – it’s not far from Tate Modern, though, near the docks. The exhibits here generally are quite accessible, they show photography works that often combine themes of ecosystems- environmental protection or place. I encourage you to visit when you have energy and time to just wander and wonder to your heart’s content. I like to go around the whole exhibit and then read the explanations for its work afterwards. While I get the value of having work that stems from the artist’s deep knowledge of their craft, I like to be able to get something from it myself. It’s good to feel autonomous in one’s perspective of art, I think. Especially if you don’t like it – I encourage everyone to own that. It’s a nice space to be in regardless of what’s on. There are lots of windows too – I used to like sitting in front of handful of them hidden behind a screen – reading magazines and pretending that I, myself, was part of the exhibit.

Open Eye Gallery: 19 Mann Island, Liverpool L3 1BP. Open 11-4pm (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

I suppose for me, that’s the importance of visiting galleries every once in a while. It’s a shame that for some it’s associated with boredom and being dragged around by your parents or friends or lovers to ‘get some culture’. Because even when you see work that isn’t great, giving time for some new information helps refresh your brain, helps you relax and even helps you to find new perspective for life outside the gallery’s walls. 

Becoming A Tourist In Your Own City: Hidden Gems Of Liverpool

By Radka Hostašová

Liverpool Waterfront

Have you ever thought of becoming a tourist in your own city? By traveling and exploring new places, we usually pack a suitcase and head away from our hometown, heading towards exotic countries and different cultures. Discovering the unknown generally provides us with excitement and curiosity. Perhaps, the Covid pandemic has changed the perception of traveling, and one of the few benefits of Covid restrictions was the expansion of domestic tourism as the only possibility of people’s getaway. However, what if we narrow the national tourism into an even smaller category; namely, sightseeing within our hometown? 

If we consider Liverpool, visiting the Royal Albert Dock, the Cathedrals, or Anfield Stadium, to name just a few top tourist attractions, are probably the recommendations we would give to tourists. In fact, these touristic areas are commonly avoided by locals due to the often large crowds. Therefore, we’ve prepared a short guide to remind you of places worth visiting in Liverpool, that as a local you might not have thought to visit.

1. Strawberry Field

Most of us probably know the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever‘ by The Beatles. To understand more of the iconic lyrics as well as uncover the story of John Lennon, Strawberry Field is a good place to start.

In 2019 Strawberry Field was opened to the public for the first time, with an exhibition on its history, a cafe, shop and a training centre for young people with special educational needs. Located in Woolton Village, Strawberry Field offers a tour around the interactive exhibition or a peaceful walk in adjacent gardens. With a link to activities of The Salvation Army, this place bears the idea of mindfulness, wellbeing, and togetherness.

All sales through the exhibition, café and shop fund the Steps at Strawberry Field programmes, aimed at those with learning difficulties or other barriers to employment.

2. Western Approaches Museum

Amongst the number of museums across Merseyside, Western Approaches is one of the more obscure ones. Calling this museum a hidden gem is quite an appropriate term as the venue is located in an underground bunker. The self-guided tour around the labyrinth of rooms tells a story of the British Armed Forces during the Second World War, involving a range of authentic objects and documents. So if you don’t fear closed spaces, head to the Liverpool Town Hall – the Western Approaches Museum is located in the basement. 

3. Sudley House

Sudley House is a Victorian mansion located in Mossley Hill, currently under the administration of the National Museums Liverpool. Back in the 19th century, Sudley House used to be a residence of a Victorian merchant George Holt and his family. Driven by a lifelong love for art, George Holt spent his inherited fortune and trading profits on filling the house with valuable artworks and pieces of expensive furniture. These days, Sudley House is open for the public to experience the heritage of this wealthy Victorian family and admire the glorious interior. 

4. Berry and Rye Bar

Berry and Rye Bar is a place that addresses important historical events from a different perspective. Themed as a secret bar, this small venue in Liverpool city centre reflects on Prohibition dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. As a customer, you will be provided with an authentic experience including dim lights, menus hidden in vintage books, and 1930s style jazz music. Berry and Rye Bar is simply a great place to spend a memorable night out.

5. Allerton Towers

Liverpool has some fantastic parks and green spaces, with Sefton Park and Calderston Parks being two of the most popular destinations for a Sunday stroll. But, there’s several Liverpool public gardens that are quieter, if you’re looking for some solitude. If you walk up to Woolton Road, you’ll reach Allerton Towers – a gem amongst the parks with remains of the historical manor and Italianate colonnade in the centre, surrounded by green areas with diverse botanical species. The landscape of Allerton Towers is full of hidden corners and crannies that might enhance your weekend walk with a touch of mystery. 

6. Queen Avenue

Even as a regular around Liverpool city centre, you might not have discovered a tiny path off Castle Street named Queen Avenue. These days, the secret passage is mainly occupied by independent art galleries as well as classy wine stores. Lined with historical shop windows and vintage lamp posts, the spirit of Queen Avenue will take you back in time.

‘Barely Visible’ Is A Piece of Unmissable Theatre To Catch This Month

By Rhiannon Lewis

Rowena Gander
Rowena Gander. Photo Credit: Andrew Ness

I had the privilege of snatching a little preview of ‘Barely Visible’ a few weeks ago – a new theatre performance incorporating a 100-foot pole into an exploration of the queer experience. Part-dance, part semi-autobiographical monologue, Rowena Gander (the sole performer) stretches out to the audience at the very seams of the space, her defiant and often ironic words pushing past the barriers of the fourth wall and into the audience’s consciousness. 

It takes a few minutes for the audience to settle into the exchange that they learn, encouraging their response- by the end, gasping freely at Gander’s incredible dexterity and fierce strength, with scatters of applause. There are moments we, as the audience, feel suspended with Gander, raised into flight, but a smart remark, an elegant descent, and laughter punctuates the air, and the audience is back on known ground- not airborne after all. 

But that’s the greatest strength of Gander’s performance- for there is an understanding that though Gander’s ability to articulate her body will, likely, far exceed our own, she speaks of an experience that many share. “Dirty”- the snarling recorded voice lashes out in the darkness. She looks up, face smeared with mud. She smiles prettily, puts on make-up and totters on invisible stilettos, a posture that starkly contrasts her usual easy, confident gait. This articulates not only the queer experience, but that of women, of ‘other’. The show portrays that expectation impressed upon us to fit into acceptable ways of being. Rowena emulates this, the restriction is painful and she struggles to stand, to be. Then she punches out of those constraints, quite literally, flying above the audience.

We take a collective breath. For though we can’t all move with the intelligence and skill of Rowena Gander, there are always ways for us to break out, fly- to expand beyond expectations that we otherwise might have allowed to restrain us. It is a reminder in itself breathtaking to behold.

‘Barely Visible’ Creative Team

Dircted by Elinor Randle
Performed by Rowena Gander
Original sound score by Noel Jones
Lighting design by Phil Saunders
Produced by Claire Bigley – Please contact Claire for all booking inquiries – [email protected]
This work is supported Arts Council England and by Unity Theatre as part of their Open Artist Callout.
Photography by Andrew Ness

‘Barely Visible’ is touring around Liverpool, performing at Edge Hill University on 15 March and Square Chapel in Halifax on the 6th April (more performances to be added).

Tung Auditorium: A New Modern Concert Hall Launched In Liverpool

By Radka Hostašová

The Tung Auditorium

After announcing the development of a brand new, multi-purpose facility named after Yoko Ono, Liverpool has recently enhanced its cultural sphere with a large venue designed to listen to live music. The Tung Auditorium, as a part of the University of Liverpool’s Yoko Ono Lennon Centre, opened its doors to the public at the beginning of the year 2022.

The building is located on the university campus, on the corner of Oxford Street and Groove Street, and serves the purposes of performers and concert-goers, as well as the students and lecturers. Whereas the Tung Auditorium represents the concert hall, Paul Brett Lecture Theatre offers a space for art students to undertake professional world-class sessions. 

The Tung Auditorium is significantly contributing to Liverpool’s cultural domain. Firstly, naming the centre after John Lennon and Yoko Ono builds on the musical heritage of the region and materializes the memory of an iconic artistic couple. Additionally, the Tung Auditorium is unique for its size and modern layout as the concert hall can host up to 400 visitors and provides a stage for large-scale orchestras. And finally, an advanced architectonic plan also comes along with excellent acoustic properties. The hall is equipped with cutting-edge technology that can be adjusted to accommodate ensembles of various sizes and genres.

Moving towards an artistic program, the Tung Auditorium embraces a broad range of musical styles. The audience can choose between classical music, jazz, folk, or electronic and alternative music. However, the diverse production does not only consist of a variety of genres. The programme combines the recitals of music students with high-profile national and international artists in order to attract a large group of attendees with different preferences. 

Besides the evening events, The Tung Auditorium functions as a hub for a regular series of midday concerts, previously held at the Victoria Gallery & Museum. As an outcome of relocating the Lunchtime Concert Series to a spacious modern hall, the project can further expand and address more visitors across Merseyside. 

Overall, the Tung Auditorium’s programme strategy is clearly complex. Along with bringing a high-quality music experience to its audience, the venue intends to broaden the audience’s knowledge through interactive workshops related to the music world.

Moreover, it brings up the concept of community and togetherness – both the key ideas of John Lennon and Yoko Ono which formed their approach towards life and society. In fact, without the collective financial support of the community the plans for building this new cultural centre might never have come to fruition. To honour the individuals and organisations who contributed to fund the venue, each seat in the Tung Auditorium is marked with the donor’s name.  

To find out more about The Tung Auditorium and their programme of events visit https://thetungauditorium.com/

‘Ones to Watch’: Get to Know Liverpool-Based Indie-Pop Band Ask Elliot

By Francesca-Lily McIntosh

Ask Elliot Band Liverpool

Ask Elliot was formed in 2018 after cousins Tom Houghton (lead guitar), Liam Shields (drummer) and classmate Archie Rimmer (bass) met Ream Radomes (lead vocalist). Ask Elliot have played shows across multiple venues in Liverpool such as the Arts Club, the Zanzibar Club and recently showcased in Modern Age Music’s ‘Ones to Watch’ series at Jimmy’s in Liverpool. As they now begin to expand beyond Liverpool, now is the time to get to know Ask Elliot and their plans for the future.

Uncover Liverpool: As things are slowly getting back to normal and the music industry is beginning to thrive once again, how does it feel to be able to play live gigs again?

Ream: It feels really good. A year and a half of gigging was taken away from us and we were really beginning to take off in 2019. We were hitting a point where doors were opening up for us, but it’s very reassuring how we’re gigging again, and things are the same way as they were.

Uncover: Is there a story behind the band name?

Liam: Me and Tom were at our mutual nans’ for a Chinese takeaway, and we were trying to think of a band name. We were struggling and Tom’s sister, Lucy, has a friend called Elliot who is renowned as being quite clever. Someone said, ‘why don’t we ask Elliot?’ and I think it was my dad who said why don’t we just go with Ask Elliot? 

Uncover: We are well and truly hooked on you guys – Our favourites have to be Honey, By Your Side and Flowers of White. Do you each have a favourite single?

Archie: Probably to listen to By Your Side but to do in the studio was Settle Down.

Tom: Mine would be Olivia at the minute.

Liam: My favourite changes every day but right now it’s Flowers of White.

Ream: I like them all for different reasons, but the top of the list would be Olivia and Settle Down. However, we do have another single coming out soon. It’s a short one but it makes me move and I like that about the next one.

Ask Elliot Band Interview Uncover Liverpool

Uncover: We are really looking forward to seeing what’s next for you. What does 2022 look like for Ask Elliot?

Ream: So far, we have just been preparing, like I said we have a single coming up so we’re getting on with polishing material for that, doing all of the boring promotional things. 

This year we’ve planned to take a break from recording, so after this single we are going to go out and play as many gigs as possible.

Our gig at Jimmy’s on the 27th of January was a really good opportunity for us because the promoter we were working with said that they would like to work with us in the future, so hopefully it will open some doors for us outside of Liverpool.

Our aim now is to expand outside of Liverpool and to get people knowing who we are as far and wide as we can.

Uncover: Liverpool must be the perfect place for a band to set their roots in, do you think being so local to Liverpool and its popular music scene has supported you as a band?

Ream: I do feel like it has given us a lot of momentum at the start of our journey and I’m not sure we could have done that in any other place. 

The scene is very close-knit. We are friends with other bands, and we often get presented opportunities through them. 

I think it has helped a lot and there are a lot more opportunities here, however we only started in Liverpool so it’s all we know really.

Uncover: You have already announced you have some new music lined up for us, can you tell us when we can look out for your next single? Can you give us a word to describe it?

Ream: It’s very much pencilled in and up in the air at the moment but around March is where we’re aiming, so very soon. I would say energetic. 

Liam: Bouncy.

Archie: I would say three: In your face.

While we look out for their next in-your-face single, guaranteed to get you moving, you can stream Ask Elliot on Spotify and Apple Music and follow the guys on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.