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Do Not Yet Fold Your Wings

Chief Executive Mary Cloake reflects on Bluecoat's recent strand of work by mature artists

Bluecoat’s artistic policy is rooted in curiosity.  We base our work on finding out more about the world through the arts; and about how the arts work within people’s lives.   As part of this process we have been supporting and investigating the work of artists at a point of maturity in their artistic practice, to see what they can tell or show us about getting older, and about having a body of work on which to reflect.

This sequence started in 2014 with Phil Jeck’s return to Vinyl Requiem, which saw him resurrect the multiple record-players of his 1993 piece by accompanying the film of the original performance.  More recently, in the presentationSomeone else can clean up this mess, Irene Revell (Director, Electra) and Claire Louise Staunton (Director, Flat Time House) discussed London’s underground arts scene in the 1960s and 1970s, pointing out the understated role of women within it.

A major project in this series, due to finish soon, is Bisakha Sarker’s multi-media art work, evocatively entitled after the words of Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Do not yet fold your wings’ taken from his poem Hard Times.

One of the great pleasures of working at Bluecoat is that one has the opportunity to see this piece every day.  If you haven’t yet visited the Bluecoat’s Vide space to experience this work, may I strongly recommend that you do?  There you will find the fruits of a fine artistic collaboration: Ansuman Biswas has left swirling whorls of white salt on the gallery floor while above, the haunting music of Chris Davies resonates in the empty, rising space. Between the salt and the music, the image of the dancer, Bisakha herself, swathed in a rich red, floats miraculously on the grey walls. Choreographed by Marc Brew, the resulting performance draws out the dancer’s ingrained elegance: the figure is at once substantial and evanescent, a radiant apparition that could vanish with the flick of a switch. The piece revolves around the mature movement of an artist with a full career behind her and clearly shows her expressive capacity. One thing is incontrovertible: Bisakha has shown, both on film and in the delightful live performances which accompanied this piece at various points, that for the mature artist, as for all of us, there is so much more to give and to do.

Bluecoat has supported this multi-media art work also in accordance with our commitment to encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration between artists.  The project was facilitated by the Baring Foundation which has a specific interest in supporting art and older people. With our partners MDI (Link) we hosted VITAL  an international evening of dance by older people as part of the Move on Up initiative http://www.mdi.org.uk/content/files/Dance_%20healt_Strategy%20.pdf

Bisakha Sarker has collaborated with us here at Bluecoat over many years, and been very active in promoting South Asian dance, community-based initiatives, and issues concerning dance, dementia and ageing.  Her work reaches to the heart of our activities at Bluecoat, our curiosity about how the arts can have an impact in the lives of people of all ages, and from all communities.

Edward Said’s, On Late Style was discussed at Bluecoat recently by visiting academic Dr Robert Spencer.  In this book, Said brings out the complexity and unresolved nature of works of art produced by artists in the final phases of their careers. Do not yet fold your wings shows us how beautiful and inspiring they can be, too.   

Bluecoat’s artistic policy is online here

Tags:Exhibitions

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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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