Art faithful flock to church for one of the biggest exhibitions marking Biennial celebrations

CHURCHES in Liverpool city centre have been turned into many different things over the years, from restaurants to flats.

Now one has managed to combine its commitments to all things ecclesiastical with its credentials as a hub for art and performance.

St Bride' Church, on Percy Street, in the Georgian Quarter, is not only still used as a place of worship but as an alternative venue for concerts - and, now, an art gallery.

In an Ideal World is one of the biggest exhibitions in the whole Biennial, according to the number of different artists involved.

Some 28 artists from the Liverpool area are showing their work in the church.

Curator and artist Alice Lenkiewicz said: "The theme of the exhibition is "in an ideal world', and each artist has written their own personal statement to go with the work.

"It's a mix of people from the community and from artists' groups in the city, professional and beginners.

"It's a lovely church that is very open to artists and musicians.

"It was very diffi-cult to find a space during the Biennial and when this came up I thought "here's our chance'."

Lenkiewicz is a member of the Arena artists network, pub-lishes the poetry magazine Neon High-way, and is one of the founders of the online Toxteth Art Gallery, which aims to show profiles of local artists' work and en-courage them to get together to set up shows - and is how this exhibition came together.

She is also the daughter of acclaimed British painter Robert Lenkiewicz, and is exhibiting a small number of his sketches at the exhibition that have never been seen in public.

Other artists taking part include Janine Pinion, Barbara Jones, Mark Owen, Susan Sharples, and Iain Yell.

Although mostly paintings, there is photography, sculpture and film in the exhibition, which has been funded by North West Housing Services.

Arthur Roberts, whose work is on show and is on the board of the Independents Biennial, said: "It is going fantastically well, and this really is the best and biggest Biennial we've seen.

"I've been an artist since I was 16 and seen Liverpool artists really sidelined - The Independents Biennial is a great opportunity for us to show what we can do, and as I've seen it grow, I think it will be a substantial fringe in future."

IN AN Ideal World, at St Bride's Church, runs until Oct- ober 30 and is open Wednesday - Sunday, 12pm until 5pm.

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City ready to seize China Expo 2010 opportunities

THE importance of culture in Chinese life will present huge opportunities to Liverpool’s creative sector in the next two years, according to a leading figure in the city’s arts world.

Arthur Stafford, commercial director of FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technologies) visited Shanghai last week on behalf of Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium (LARC). He was part of a Liverpool delegation visiting China ahead of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

LARC, whose members include Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial and Liverpool Philharmonic, are keen to be at the heart of Liverpool’s exhibition at the Expo.

It also wants to maximise the cultural potential in the closer relationship Liverpool is building with its Chinese sister.

Mr Stafford said: “In China, tradition and culture are incredibly important.

“In all the meetings I was in, culture comes through time and time again.

“I've been generating ideas for collaborations between the two cities so that the Expo reflects the strength of Liverpool’s message but to ensure it is also relevant to the 60m Chinese visitors.

“There is the possibility of us forging links between Liverpool and Shanghai cultural institutions and commissioning, for example, exhibitions at the same time as the Expo that celebrate the work of Chinese artists.”

The Expo is a six-month exhibition that begins on May 1, 2010. Liverpool’s stand in the Urban Best Practice pavilion will seek to tell the story of Liverpool’s 800 years of history and sell its future to an estimated 70m visitors, all in a space of 400 square metres.

But the delegation that visited Shanghai last week has not been solely focused on events two years and 5,700 miles away. “It’s ironic that you have to go to Shanghai to speak to people from your own city,” said Mr Stafford.

“I’ve had a lot of really good discussions with Arup, and also Liverpool and Everton football clubs, and we hope to develop those ideas.”

Arup, an engineering firm with 44 staff in Liverpool and nearly 200 in Shanghai, is already involved in cultural activities in the city.

Liverpool’s second spider – which is suspended in the air in Exchange Flags – was designed by Beijing Olympics’ Bird’s Nest stadium co-designer Ai Weiwei but was constructed by Arup.

alex.turner

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Major new commissions at Tate Liverpool for Biennial

THIS month’s Late at Tate event makes the most of the gallery’s Biennial exhibition, and invites evening visitors to the Made Up Mix.

Major new commissions by nine artists, encompassing painting, sculpture, installation, video and drawing, have been made especially for the ten-week exhibition and are being shown alongside other rarely-seen works.

Tate says it has commissioned works that make up new places between the real and the unreal, documentary and narrative, fact and fiction, and truth and lie, and is celebrating the opening of the Liverpool Biennial with a special night of imagination and improvisation.

Made Up Mix will give visitors the opportunity to experience an improvised performance by artist Patrick Brill, who performs as Bob and Roberta Smith’s Apathy Band, take a revealing tour with Tate Liverpool’s Made Up curator, and catch an American documentary film featuring Biennial artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler.

Chibuku DJ Phil Charnock will be warming up the foyer from 6pm, followed by a performance by avant-garde Leeds band, Die Plankton, known for their fusing of human beat-boxing, improvised instruments, hip-hop loops and experimental ukulele.

Tate Liverpool curator Laurence Sillars leads Between the Real, a ticketed event revealing the thinking behind his interpretation on the theme Made Up, and will speak about the process of working with contemporary artists such as Rodney Graham, David Altmejd and Omer Fast. Biennial artists Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler have presented The Year without a Summer, and, to celebrate, Late at Tate will be screening a film – an episode of American contemporary art series Art: 21–Art in the Twenty-First Century – featuring the artists discussing their inspiration and challenges.

Made Up is a special exhibition running until November 30, and admission is £5/£4 with members and children free.

Works to look out for include Canadian David Altmejd’s two sleeping giants; the acclaimed film Take a Deep Breath, by Omar Fast; and the paintings of Liverpool artist Ged Quinn.

Late at Tate takes place tomorrow, from 6pm to 9pm.

Between the Real runs from 6pm to 7.30pm and tickets cost £7/£5.50 including free entry into the exhibition. To book tickets, contact Tate Liverpool on 0151 702 7400.

vickyanderson

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Liverpool Biennial organisers promise the best yet

THE 2008 Liverpool Biennial will be the biggest and most ambitious to date, according to organisers.

Acclaimed Chinese artist and architect Ai Weiwei, now internationally recognised for his Bird’s Nest stadium at the Beijing Olympics, and Yoko Ono will be among the 40 artists taking part.

The first hints of what is to come during the month-long arts festival were revealed yesterday with the unveiling of the first public artwork, Joyful Trees, that is to act as a "trailblazer" before the Biennial starts on September 20.

The artwork, situated at the junction of Upper Parliament Street and Great George Street, is by leading New York architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Although it looks like an ordinary mini-park, a closer look reveals three trees in the centre are actually slowly rotating.

Sorcha CORCarey, programme manager of the Biennial, which is also marking its 10th anniversary, said: "2008 is a really big year for culture and we wanted an even bigger, special Biennial this year.

"Many of the commissions, especially those outdoors, will be much larger than usual."

The majority of the work on show as part of the Biennial will be brand new, and the small number of non- commissioned items will have never been seen in the UK before.

One of the highlights is likely to be the work of Ai Weiwei, who will be creating a "spiderweb of light" across Exchange Flags.

An open-air stage on Renshaw Street will form Rockscape, where musicians will be able to jam, and the Biennial visitor centre will be based in the disused former ABC cinema, on Lime Street.

Ms Carey added: "We wanted to celebrate what we do best – bringing some of the most ambitious, large- scale installations we have ever done.

"People will really have the opportunity to join in with us in celebrating this momentous anniversary that also comes in Capital of Culture year. It will be the best one yet."

Architect Ricardo Scofidio arrived in Liverpool yesterday to take his first look at his completed installa- tion, Joyful Trees (Arbores Laetae).

He said: "One of the themes running through our work in the last few years has been that of nature and artifice.

"We wanted to play with the landscape and make it something one doesn’t think of as normal.

"Hopefully people will be surprised and like it."

Joyful Trees will be fenced off to the public for two weeks to allow the newly-laid turf to settle. After that people will be free to explore the installation.

The theme of the festival is "made up" – a focus on the artistic imagination.

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Young invited to make movies for Liverpool Biennial

A YOUNG person’s film festival for aspiring movie-makers, aged between 12 and 19, has been launched by Liverpool Biennial and FACT .

Young people are being asked to send in films no more than 10 minutes in length, that focus on myths, lies, story telling or imaginary worlds and responding to the theme “made up”.

The films could either be “made up in Liverpool’ or about Liverpool and must be created within the last year.

There will be three categories of silent films, films made using mobile phones and the creative response to the theme of Made Up.

After the July 18 deadline, the selection process will begin, led by a team of young people from FACT.

There will also be a chance for the public to watch a selection of films, via the Liverpool Biennial website at www.biennial.com, and choose which ones get to be screened at FACT, at three different community venues and on the BBC Big Screen.

In the run up to the submission deadline a series of workshops will offer young people the chance to develop their film making skills.

There will be a big showcase event to celebrate the chosen films in November.

It is sponsored by Liverpool Culture Company as part of Liverpool European Capital of Culture.

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Liverpool lights up as it hits Culture Year jackpot

A SERIES of neon fruit mach- ines will be lit up in three neighbourhoods of Liverpool as the curtain-raiser for the city’s Capital of Culture public art programme.

Liverpool Jackpot is in the process of being installed in Kirkdale, Kensington and Garston and will be turned on at 6.30pm on Thursday.

The works, which are more than 10ft tall, and by French artist Franck Scurti, feature three columns, like a fruit machine, and will show images of food, a body part, and a phrase taken from a newspaper.

The project, part of the Winter Lights programme, represents the opening of Liverpool Biennial’s £1m-plus public art programme for the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations.

The first in the Winter Lights series, called Animal, was designed by Ron Haselden with local primary school children. It appeared in 2006, and featured huge neon drawings depicting a cat, a camel and a polar bear.

The animals will be re-lit this year and a rabbit will be installed in December near St Vincent de Paul School, Pitt Street, where the drawing was made.

Last night, council leader Warren Bradley said: “This year’s Winter Lights series will herald the start of the public art programme for European Capital of Culture.

“We are committed to ensuring that the Capital of Culture celebrations are enjoyed by people across Liverpool, and the Winter Lights are a great example of eye-catching, high-profile work being placed right at the heart of our communities.”

Hold Your Nerve and Think Big will be positioned at Stanley Bar Stanley Road, Kirkdale; Power To The People will be at The Spekeland, Tunnel Road, Kensington; and Ideas Cannot Be Killed at Uncle J’s, St Mary’s Road, Garston.

The polar bear will be at Sheil Road, Kensington, the camel at the corner of Moss Street and St Mary’s Road, Garston, and the cat in Great Mersey Street, Vauxhall.

The lights will be on display until February 2008.

In autumn 2008, there will be a further Winter Lights commission.

Lewis Biggs, director of Liverpool Biennial, said: “Commissioning the brightest and best artists from around the world, and inviting them to involve themselves with local people, is what Liverpool Biennial’s contribution to Capital of Culture 2008 is all about.”

Scurti has exhibited his work across the world, from Sao Paulo and New York to Japan.

davidbartlett

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08 Biennial set to bring in 500,000 city visitors

LIVERPOOL’S Biennial art festival brought over £13.5m to the city last year according to a new report, and organisers say next year’s festival will attract over 500,000 people.

89% of visitors to the 2006 contemporary art event, which featured exhibits showcased at venues all over the city, rated their visit as very good or good, but many struggled to find the attractions because of poor signage and guides, the report and survey from The Mersey Partnership (TMP) reveals.

It concludes the least popular exhibits were a giant question mark hung over Cammell Laird by artist Hans Peter Kuhn, and Priscilla Monge’s football pitch installation, which lay beside the Port of Liverpool building.

St Luke’s Church, at the top of Bold Street and FACT received the highest scores for visitor satisfaction at their exhibits in the survey, although FACT’s score was lower than in 2004’s Biennial.

Martin King, director of tourism at TMP said: “The research underlines the huge benefits associated with Liverpool Biennial 2006, and it reveals the very significant impact the event created for our visitor economy.

“Another value of market research like this, and assessing the views and experiences of our visitors, is in identifying how things can be improved and gauging critical or less than positive feedback.

“Respondents in the survey indicated very high levels of satisfaction, but there were some issues about signposting and I am sure they will be addressed when we welcome visitors to the Biennial next year.”

The report estimates 2006 Biennial patrons spent £13,563,006 during their time in the city, 24% more than during the 2004 festival.

It also shows respondents felt some of the less established exhibitions, including the Open Eye Gallery on Wood Street, Fusebox on Parr Street – which featured books and articles on Biennial artists – and the Coach Shed installation at Greenland Street gallery had improved from their showing in 2004, whilst Tate Liverpool and the Walker Art Gallery received lower scores compared to the previous festival.

Liverpool Biennial executive director Paul Smith said: “We are on target to attract upwards of 500,000 visitors to the 2008 festival.

“We are aiming to capitalise on the opportunities and increased profile gained through Capital of Culture to develop the festival as a legacy in 2010 and beyond.”

Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool City Council, a partner in the festival, added: “We knew when we introduced the festival it would bring visual arts onto the doorstep of Liverpool and the feedback shows it is not just tourists but local people enjoying the exhibits.

“It bodes well for next year’s fes- tival as part of Capital of Culture – who would have thought five years ago we would have achieved this?

“As for the signage issues in the report, we will be picking that up and making sure there is ease of access next year”.

OPINION: P10

(Contemporary Visual Arts Festivals: Independents Liverpool Biennial, La Biennale di Venezia, berlin biennale,Berliner Kunstsalon, art cologne, Beijing Biennial, Athens Biennale, Biennale of Sydney Australia, Busan Biennale, CIAC, documenta, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Gwangju Biennale, LODZ BIENNALE, manifesta, Sharjah Biennial, Singapore Biennale, Moscow Biennale, Transmediale, VIENNA BIENNALE, DAK'ART Biennale, Werkleitz Gesellschaft e.V. Zentrum für künstlerische Bildmedien Sachsen-Anhalt, Bienal do Mercosul, YOKOHAMA TRIENNALE,Torino Triennale,Bienal de La Habana, bienal internacional de cuenca. 2008, 2009, 2010)

 

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