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Liverpool Biennial 2018: Artists Showing at Bluecoat

published by The Bluecoat

Liverpool Biennial is the UK’s largest international visual arts festival taking place over 15 weeks at Bluecoat and across ...


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Abi Burrows shares her volunteering experience...

I’m currently in my final year studying Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University. I applied for volunteering roles at various art organisations in Liverpool at the start of the summer because I wanted to gain as much experience in the arts as I could to help me decide what career direction I want to take after graduation. I especially wanted to volunteer at the Bluecoat because I’ve always felt welcomed when I’ve visited here and I wanted to be a part of the friendly atmosphere as well as be part of the educational activities that the Bluecoat provides.

Having previously had work experience within a marketing and advertising agency in London and realising that perhaps the more commercial industry wasn’t necessarily for me, I was keen to get involved in marketing within an arts organisation. I applied to volunteer within the Bluecoat’s Marketing and Communication’s team in July and have been carrying out tasks such as event submissions, brochure archiving, contacting various external arts organisations around Liverpool and general marketing duties such as updating the marketing material around the Bluecoat. I have gained confidence in being able to contact other organisations and discovered the importance of networking in order to increase exposure of an event. It’s been a really insightful and helpful experience as it has given me a greater awareness of what is involved within an arts organisation.

I’ve also been volunteering in the galleries where I have been welcoming visitors, answering any questions they may have about the current exhibition and making sure art works are safe and secure. The current exhibition is of James McNeill Whistler. My favourite pieces are the etchings of Venice because of their detail and lines and the reproduction of the ‘Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room’ because of its colour and decorative style as well as the context behind the piece in which Whistler was supposed to make minor changes to the room but instead let his imagination run wild.

I’ll be continuing to volunteer at the Bluecoat during the Christmas period in the Participation Team with the Explore activities for families as well as invigilating within the galleries.

I also volunteered as a Mediator with the Liverpool Biennial 2014 this summer, where I was involved in helping set up exhibition spaces, as well as invigilating and participating in workshops and talks to gain a more thorough knowledge of this year’s Biennial so that I could provide information to the public. I enjoyed the curators’ tour across the different venues within the Biennial as it was really interesting to find out about their own views and reasoning behind it. My favourite part of the Biennial is the gallery space commissioned by architect Claude Parent at Tate Liverpool because I found the experience of walking up and down ramps and crouching into the narrow spaces of the room really enjoyable in terms of viewing art works, but also exciting as I was reminded of the times spent as a child exploring indoor play areas.   

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to meet other like-minded people as well as meet a variety of people with a wealth of industry knowledge who are friendly and supportive of what you want to do and who can help you gain the experience that you want. I’ve learnt a great deal about the art industry through volunteering and have gained an insight into the different roles within an arts organisation that has helped determine what is and what isn’t for me. Volunteering has made me realise that I want to make art for a living, and the skills and knowledge I have learnt will undoubtedly help me in the future.  My website is:

If you are interested in volunteering with the Bluecoat, please have a look at our volunteer page.


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About the Bluecoat

Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. As the most ...

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