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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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DaDaFest Artistic Director's Festival Highlights

DaDaFest announced their full programme last week, and here at Bluecoat we can't wait for the festival to start. DaDaFest Artistic Director, Ruth Gould MBE chooses her festival highlights below and explores exactly why the festival is so important on affecting the prevailing negative messages regarding disability today.


We have a long and fruitful relationship with the Bluecoat that has existed from well before we were tenants.  They have a particular resource that we adore – the building – which is now much more accessible than it used to be, together with a shared ethos to bring edgy and diverse programmes into these spaces. 

We are therefore delighted to be basing nine events from Skin:Deep - this year’s DaDaFest International - into their Autumn programme.

Skin:Deep is about affecting change, first in how the individual views disability and their own sense of body change as they grow older and secondly to confront the prevailing negative messages across society.  Basically, we want to get under peoples’ skin. To challenge the ‘ahh effect’, the superficial and patronising aspects that many of us endure on a daily basis. Despite a growing appreciation of disability due to events such as the Paralympics, there is also a need to reflect and convey truth through real stories based upon the lived experience of disability. This is needed as we are forever caught between the messages of extremes, ranging from ‘overcoming our disabilities’ through to the rise in disability hate crime, homelessness, loss of benefits and high unemployment.

DaDaFest has a remit to produce great art that affects social change, and I for one feel very proud that our festival programme captures this and much more. 

The events at the Bluecoat launch on 19 November with a ground-breaking world debut by Sheree Rose and Martin O’Brien exploring some of life’s most deep and pressing issues, continuing on from the work of Bob Flanagan. A 24-hour durational piece, this presents controversy and beauty – representative of a core element to our work.

On 23 November, Owen Lowery returns for his second DaDaFest performance, supported by Sally Edwards. They are poets of immense skill and passion, programmed together for the first time. Maddy and the Band of Invisible Groovers is a family-based programme based on the experiences of 8 year old Maddy: with three performances, there is no excuse not to come.

The workshop programme begins with the wonderful Claire Cunningham. She will be based in Liverpool for around 10 days, delivering two dance performances and talks in various venues across the city. This includes the chance for dancers in the city to work alongside her as part of Bluecoat’s INHABIT New Dance programme. The workshop is designed for trained dancers to explore their bodies from different aesthetics. Then followed by the wonderful Tammy Reynolds who is leading a writing workshop to encourage new and established writers to come together and capture the thoughts and aspirations of the festival.

We are also delighted to announce a book launch working with DAsH, a disability arts organisation based in Shropshire. This will trigger wider discussion about disability arts and its relevance in today’s society.

The final three events are three solo performances by some of the most provocative and stimulating performers in the UK today, Jo Bannon’s Alba is hauntingly beautiful and fits in so well with our festival theme, dispelling myths and saying it as is it. Joey Hateley’s work, ’DiRTy’, brings together the complexities on how we view ourselves, try to fit in and be true to who we are. A poignant and engaging piece of theatre, it will trigger debate and you will find that its themes stay with you for quite some time. Lastly, we are proud to be working with Liverpool-based, Tim Jeeves on his immersive theatre piece, ‘The Kindness of Strangers.’ A blend of looking again at life, at the unexpected things that may happen and our response.  It is a beautiful and fitting end to the programme events at the Bluecoat and we thank them for their continued partnership and support.

To find out about DaDaFest and other events at Bluecoat please visit our events page.  

To see the full DaDaFest International events programme visit their website

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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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