Thursday, March 27, 2008

Liverpool: City of the Arts

‘It’s grim up north’ or so goes the familiar reply whenever a town situated north of London’s M25 is mentioned. ‘Well, have you ever been to Liverpool?’ is the appropriate response. After suffering a chequered history, Liverpool has recently emerged as a lively centre for the arts. Former home to Europe’s largest port, the city enjoyed its heyday during the industrial revolution before it was bombed to smithereens during World War II. Out of the rubble emerged the Beatles, until disaster struck again, in the shape of Margaret Thatcher and hundreds of dock workers were laid off. Liverpudlians soldiered on, however, transforming their disused dock system into a suitable home for Tate Liverpool. Now the city is positively brimming with art and has been voted Europe’s 2008 Capital of Culture.

• Tate Liverpool is hosting this year’s Turner Prize. Mark Wallinger is tipped to win the £25,000 prize with a hilarious film of the artist dressed in a bear suit.

• The Liverpool Biennial was founded by Liverpudlian and arts innovator James Moores. Now in its 5th year, the 2008 Biennial is commissioning 36 new works by leading international artists, many of them will be installed in public spaces. Previous projects include Anthony Gormley’s spectacular cast iron figures standing on a Lancashire beach, waves lapping around their heels.

• ‘A’ Foundation, Moores’ latest Liverpudlian venture has secured vast warehouse spaces for exhibitions. Installations by British artist Brian Griffiths and U.S. based collective SIMPARCH will be on show until April 2008. “James Moores' introduction of the Liverpool Biennial in his own home town has really helped to bring the city to the forefront of the art world’s collective consciousness,” says arty ASW member Rebecca Guinness.

• The Walker Art Gallery will be staging the John Moores Prize for Contemporary Painting, now in its 50th year. The winning painter receives a prize of £25,000.

• FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) commissions artists to make works in film, video and new media. On show until Jan 13th 2008 are three new films from Manchester based filmmakers Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson about issues of faith in contemporary society.

• ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2008,’ is the hot ticket next year. This annual exhibition of the best work by recent graduates from art schools attracts eager gallerists in search of new artists.

— Constance Wyndham

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