The Bluecoat reopened to the public revealing new site specific, permanent artworks in the entrance space (known as the Hub).
For the first time, visitors will be able to see artworks by Babak Ganjei, Sumuyya Khader and Harold Offehcreated as part of the Bluecoat’s recent capital project.
The project has transformed The Hub and created a more welcoming and easy to navigate visitor experience. The scheme for the Grade I building was developed by Architectural Emporium, a Liverpool based practice, in partnership with the Bluecoat team.
Mary Cloake, Bluecoat Chief Executive said: “We were devastated to have to close to the public over the last year, but have used the time wisely and the Bluecoat is looking fantastic. We have renewed our purpose and are keen to contribute to Liverpool’s reinvigoration. We can’t wait to welcome visitors back to the Bluecoat”
Summer by Sumuyya Khader is a tile work that greets visitors as they come in from the Bluecoat’s famous garden. The work draws from illustrations the artist made of rejuvenating plant life and helps draw a link between the entrance and the garden outside. Khader is an artist based in Liverpool where she makes illustrations and prints.
Harold Offeh has created a space for children and families in the Hub. He has used shades of blue, including a blue filter across the window to mark out a giant triangle in the space which will house children’s books and activity boards to occupy little ones. Offeh is based in Cambridge and works in installation, performance, video and photography. He frequently works with children, families and in arts education and his work often explores issues of gender, race and class, particularly in relation to popular culture and music.
Babak Ganjei has created three works for the tickets & information desk, TIP, OBITUARTY, and YEARS IN PLANNING. Ganjei uses humour in his work to reflect on absurdity in his everyday life and in the art world. He is based in London, where he works as an artist. He also made short films for Channel 4’s Random Acts, hosts a radio show on NTS and has made a documentary series for BBC Radio 4 called Arthur Cares in which his teenage son attempts to fix Babak’s and listeners problems. Artists were selected for the commissions through a steering group including artist advisor Frances Disley and Bluecoat’s Senior Curator Adam Lewis-Smythe.
Mary goes on to say: “When we first talked about the ambitions for the Hub, a space valued and much loved by our visitors, we really wanted to weave artist’s work into the fabric of the building. We want to create unexpected and exciting experiences for people wherever they are in the building and love the idea that the commissions will start conversations and spark ideas.”
In Bluecoat’s courtyard, Visitors will be presented with Bluecoat Platform, a colourful play sculpture created by Simon & Tom Bloor with children from Out of the Blue, Bluecoat’s after school art programme. There will be a programme of family events in the summer, based around the sculpture. The programme is currently being selected by children and their families based on submissions from artists and performers.
Visitors will be able to see the Bluecoat’s Liverpool Biennial exhibition, which is part of the 11th edition of the Liverpool Biennial The Stomach and the Port, which explores the relationship between humans and nature. Paintings by Jadé Fadojutimi explore the constant exchange between bodies and their environment as our identities continue to evolve.
Films including Jíibie (2019) by Laura Huertas Millán and Fog Dog (2020) by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, together with sculptural works by Roland Persson, Kathleen Ryan and André Romão, propose ways in which we belong to the world beyond our physical boundaries, considering ourselves as nature, not just part of it.
Images Rob Battersby