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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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Last Chance to See...

Chief Executive Mary Cloake talks about the work she will miss most from Bluecoat's current exhibition, which closes shortly. 

In Left Hand to Back of Head, Object Held Against Right Thigh there are many striking works to excite and confound. 

However, since the exhibition opened, I have found myself repeatedly drawn to a piece the casual gallery visitor might easily overlook: the scattering of small objects in Gallery 3, just visible through the College Lane window. Made out of silicon rubber, they are shaped like coins, chocolate buttons, mobile phone cases, keys and watches.   On the floor by the window sill, apparently discarded, they are oddly pathetic in their abandonment, as if someone had emptied a pocket or bag on the floor, or had missed some things in sweeping up.   But do pause to consider these small objects:  together they make up a thought-provoking and even moving meditation on identity and personality by artist Rowena Harris called I am the things in my pockets, but much in the same way I could be those things in yours (2015).

The artist’s forensic observation of detail in assembling this bricolage is an object lesson in quiet purposefulness.  Among the items are several small, square personal photographs:  a traditional beach snapshot, a line of swimmers, a coffee with friends.   Examined more closely, it’s clear that each highly-coloured print is marred in some way: there’s an intrusion of a thumb, a finger, a discolouration – the traces of gestures, of bodies, of people we do not know inviting us to speculate on personal associations from which we are excluded. 

This is but one example of how Rowena Harris’s  multi-layered work repays close viewing.   We may think that there is little exceptional in our wallets, handbags and pockets and yet the things they contain still reflect our needs and choices.  Cast in silicone, the artist's rendering of these objects emphasises their sameness and universality but also the pathos of their detachment from use.  These items no longer have the function their shape seems to suggest, making their evocation of common experience all the more poignant.


Sometimes the most modest and self-effacing of artworks can be the most compelling.  


Rowena Harris


Don't miss the chance to see Rowena Harris’s I am the things in my pockets, but much in the same way I could be those things in yours during the last days of the exhibition.   Left Hand to Back of Head, Object Held Against Right Thigh is showing at Bluecoat until Monday 28 March.  Read Curator Adam Smythe's interview with Rowena Harris:


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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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