Yoko Ono, 1968, courtesy of Sheridon Davies

300 Days of Art in Eight Easy Steps

What other city in the world could bring you 300 days of new contemporary art in one of its most historic buildings?

For the past 18 months, Liverpool’s Bluecoat have been carefully curating an art extravaganza to celebrate their 300th birthday. Not content with a big  birthday bash or retrospective exhibition, Bluecoat have pulled out all the stops to bring us something very special.

“From works by Picasso and Matisse, this building has been a home for exciting contemporary art…”

Bluecoat love to surprise, challenge, celebrate and present people with new views of the world and their triple centenary programme does not disappoint and the guest list alone is worth getting excited about.

International conceptual, video and installation artist Jeremy Deller, Liverpool’s own Mark Leckey and Japanese multi-media artist and peace activist Yoko Ono are all among artists announced in Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary programme for 2017.

Bluecoat’s artistic director Bryan Biggs spoke to it’s Liverpool about their 300th anniversary plans

“We’re thrilled to announce such an ambitious and diverse programme to mark Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary. The programme illustrates Bluecoat’s place in the city, and the country, as a progressive, inclusive and innovative centre for the contemporary arts.

“Bluecoat was the UK’s first arts centre, following the arrival of the Sandon Studios Society which moved into the building in 1907. Since then the building has been a home for exciting contemporary art, from a display of works by Picasso and Matisse in 1911 through to present day exhibitions by leading contemporary artists such as Keith Piper.

With such a large programme, Bluecoat thought it would be a good idea to break it down a bit for people. So here’s their pick of ways to engage with 300 days of new contemporary art in Liverpool.





John Akomfrah archive image (c) Bluecoat

Big name artists including Jeremy Deller, Mark Leckey, John Akomfrah and Yoko Ono will all contribute their work to Public View, the first exhibition in Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary year. Public View will feature a total of 100 artists, all of whom have previously exhibited at the gallery.


St Georges Day 1843 (c) Bluecoat Archive_building

Bluecoat is the oldest building in Liverpool City Centre, and the oldest arts centre in the country. Dating from the early 18th century, its architectural importance is reflected in its UNESCO world heritage and Grade One listed status.

Art at the Heart of Bluecoat will be the first in a series of heritage displays that will reflect the building’s rich history.


‘In theFuture2’ by Larissa Sansou

Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour first showed at Bluecoat in 2013 as part of the group exhibition I exist (in some way). She returns with a major solo show which is a combination between sci-fi, archaeology and politics. The film at the centre of the exhibition is award winning, and was given the prize of Best Experimental Short at the Guanajuato International Film Festival.


Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral interior

French musique concrète composer Pierre Henry was initially commissioned to create an electronic mass for the opening of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral in 1967, but did not complete it.

Fifty years later in May 2017 it will be performed at the cathedral as a live mix by Henry’s sound design partner and engineer Thierry Balasse, a unique performance using 40 speakers designed especially for the circular space.


Dance choreographers Siobhan Davies and Helka Kaski photo by Pari-Naderi

Think only paintings belong in a gallery? Think again. Contemporary arts organisation Siobhan Davies Dance will bring a new performance installation to Bluecoat’s galleries, including dancers performing in the gallery, alongside film and sculpture.


Bluecoat’s ‘Out of the Blue’

Bluecoat’s summer exhibition Abacus is an exhibition aimed at children, and inspired by the building’s beginnings as a charity school. There’ll be educational activities, as well as artwork from Bluecoat’s long running children’s participation project Out of the Blue, where children create art with learning disabled artists.


University of Liverpool Sociologist Dr Paul Jones

Yes, really. As part of the 2017 anniversary programme, Bluecoat will host Dr Paul Jones from the University of Liverpool as their resident sociologist. He’ll lead a course on urban sociology beginning in January. Open to his students and the general public, it will explore how cities develop and shape the lives of the people who live in them. Further talks and courses will follow throughout the year.


Bluecoat, by photographer Mark McNulty

Do you have a memory of Bluecoat? The staff there want to hear from you. A major new heritage project called My Bluecoat will aim to bring together all existing records of the building and its history, and make these available to the public online in 2017. This includes memories from individual visitors, so if you have a story to share drop the Bluecoat a line on social media using the hashtag #MyBluecoat, or speak to a member of staff at the gallery.

For full details about Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary programme click here.

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Published: 10/11/2016