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Weekly Blog 10: HALLUCINATIONS by Suki Chan - Film Premiere

published by The Bluecoat

This week we are thrilled to bring you a UK exclusive premiere of acclaimed artist Suki Chan’s new film HALLUCINATIONS. It follows ...


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Life Writing with Catherine Morris

On Sat 6 Aug historian and writer Catherine Morris will lead a workshop on Life Writing at Bluecoat. Here she explains the concept of life writing, what the workshop will cover, and gives some background on her own experience of writing.

Memory is not an instrument for surveying the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience, just as the earth is the medium in which dead cities lie buried. He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging. – Walter Benjamin, 1932.

In Bluecoat’s Life Writing Workshop on Saturday, we will explore a process of what Toni Morrison has called 're-memory'. By sharing writing, objects, photographs, letters, diaries that evoke life stories, we will chart how our personal sense of 'belonging' is a collective experience saturated in the history & public culture of the city.

As Liverpool Central Picton Library’s first writer-in-residence I am making work connected with hidden life stories and forgotten arts practices. Throughout my Arts Council funded project, Intimate Power: Autobiography of a City I am working with communities to generate a personal and a public memoir of Liverpool. 

As a writer, I have made a transition into new forms in creative writing for page & installation in which I open the process of writing to image-making & photomontage. I collect images as I trawl archives, hold interviews; making notes, collecting quotations: building image banks towards montage involving image & text. This long-running technique is a weaving of writing & image-making that I am exploring in a more fictional/biographical style, as a writer seeking to work more broadly as an artist around collectivist life writing & biography.

My last book “Alice Milligan and the Cultural Revival” (Four Courts Press, 2013) charts the practice of a forgotten artist since recognised as a founder of modern Ireland; I also recently worked with Nerve Centre on a Graphic Novel of Milligan’s Life that in 2016 entered Key Stage 3 National Curriculum for schools in Northern Ireland. In 2015, I worked as curatorial advisor on ‘El Lissitzsky: the Artist & the State’ at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin; creating a room of feminist archive including a collaborative discussion towards new performance work ‘Gag’ by Sarah Pierce. I’ve just finished a piece for IMMA’s 2016 A Fair Land project set up in association with Grizesdale Arts Centre: echoing the role artists and the European Arts and Crafts movement played in creating and articulating a new vision for Ireland pre-1916, the model village examines the function of art. Re-thinking the Royal Hospital of Kilmainham cobblestoned quadrant as a model village, the project takes shape as a visual and working installation in IMMA’s iconic courtyard this August.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to run this workshop at Bluecoat – in which participants will make an intervention in the genre of autobiography by acknowledging the intrinsically collectivist nature of the personal. My creative process and my work with photo-montage pays homage to public libraries and community centres as democratic spaces and is influenced by Walter Benjamin's Berlin Childhood, the 1932 memoir he wrote in exile. This workshop will embody an expressive language of the city within the context of life writing and image formation.

Catherine Morris’ Life Writing Workshop takes place Sat 6 Aug. Please book early to avoid disappointment.


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Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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