“The Liverpool Biennial is the largest international contemporary art festival in the United Kingdom.”
…according to Wikipedia, which does make me very proud. Liverpool is famously renowned for its music, but to have become ‘the largest’ art festival in the UK demonstrates the city’s thriving interest in the arts – not just conventional, but the more challenging art at that.
Liverpool Biennial History
It began in 1999 and then commenced its twice yearly carnival in 2002, and has, on average, attracted over 600,000 visitors over its 10 week duration. This year the Liverpool Biennial is supported by FACT (the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat, Open Eye gallery and includes a group show at The Old Blind School.
A Needle Walk’s Into A Haystack
Posters are everywhere inviting you to “A Needle Walk’s Into A Haystack”, the title of this year’s festival. For those of you that might be interested in what is perceived as the more ‘traditional’, there are Whistler’s paintings, prints, drawings and key correspondences at the Bluecoat or Mondrian’s studio and art at the Tate. However, if you have a taste for the more radical, you can also experience the Tate in a totally new way through an “unconventional remodelling of the gallery space” which will…
“provide a unique setting to view the artworks on display, including pieces by Edward Wadsworth, Gustav Metzger, Francis Picabia and Gillian Wise, among others, chosen to complement Parent’s passion for challenging conformity.” (The Tate)
In fact, even the more ‘conventional’ Mondrian and Whistler are shown to ‘challenge conformity’ and are presented through the lens of the radical effects they had on their own time.
Sharon Lockhart’s photographic and video contribution at FACT, reflects on…
“childhood, philosophical inquiry, and the politics of the voice.” (FACT)
And Jef Cornelis, a one-time Belgium television director, at St. Andrews Gardens explores…
“how art, architecture and culture are represented and talked about – all the while asking questions about the medium of television itself.”(St Andrews Gardens)
As well as the main events of the Liverpool Biennial, there are many ‘partnered’ artworks, project and events. Take a look at the full range of happenings here on the main site.
Favorite Pieces from past Biennials
Some pieces you just can’t forget once seen, and Richard Wilson’s Turning the Place Over is one of those. An amazing feat of engineering, Wilson sliced a circular disc from the side of a building and turned it into a rotating, and very disorienting window. Unfortunately, this was a temporary work but we enjoyed it between 2007 and 2011.
Another, close to my heart is Antony Gormley’s Another Place, an installation of 100 cast-iron sculptures made from 17 different moulds taken from the sculptor’s own body. Despite a considerable amount of initial hoohah, the figures have become a permanent fixture on Crosby Beach, facing away down the Mersey Estuary.
I’m sure there are many other pieces that you remember – remind us all of them by making a comment below.