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Echoes and Origins: A new project exploring Bluecoat's colonial legacies.

published by The Bluecoat

Keith Piper, Trade Winds (video still) from Trophies of Empire project, 1992  Bluecoat’s mercantile maritime origins and colonial legacies to be explored in new ...


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Help bring Jacob Epstein’s Genesis back to Bluecoat after 86 years.

Play a vital part in our final 300th birthday year exhibition. Donate to help bring Jacob Epstein’s Genesis back to Bluecoat after 86 years.

This year we celebrate the 300th anniversary of our building, and the finale will be an ambitious exhibition entitled In the Peaceful Dome. In the show, historical works shown alongside new commissions by contemporary artists will create a dialogue across time, exploring ideas that continue to resonate after 300 years. A centrepiece of the exhibition, loaned from The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, will be Jacob Epstein’s iconic sculpture from 1930, Genesis.

A dramatic marble sculpture of a heavily pregnant woman, Genesis attracted considerable controversy when first exhibited in 1930, and it has an important place in Bluecoat's history. 86 years ago, the Bluecoat Society of the Arts, as custodians of the building, struggled to finance the building's upkeep. Members of the Sandon Studios Society suggested loaning Epstein's sculpture as a means of generating much needed income, as well as exposing a Liverpool audience to a key work in British modernism.

Genesis was exhibited at Bluecoat in 1931. Chronicler of Bluecoat's arts history, the artist Roderick Bisson wrote: "With black velvet hangings behind, a rail in front and concealed lighting, it made a sensation. During the month 49,687 people paid sixpence each to gaze at her, some, the newspapers reported, to froth at the mouth, others to be baffled and some, it was said, with reverence. Sermons were preached all over the city on the theme. There was excited correspondence in the press, one writer protesting that the fund should go to the Maternity Hospital." The exhibition generated over £1,000, a considerable sum in the 1930s.

When Genesis first came to Bluecoat, the building entrance was not ramped, so a makeshift one was created from wooden planks and the sculpture wheeled in on a trolley.

In contrast, today the sculpture requires highly-specialist transport to move it safely and securely, which comes at a premium cost, and there are other costs needed in order to make In the Peaceful Dome a truly special exhibition experience in this, Bluecoat’s significant anniversary year.

That’s why we need your help bringing a key piece of Bluecoat’s history to our gallery and the city! Bluecoat is a charity that relies on fundraising, so by contributing to In the Peaceful Dome you will be directly helping Genesis revisit the journey it made 86 years ago. We’re always incredibly grateful for any support. As a thank you for your donation we have a range of gifts on offer. To make a donation or to find out more, visit our crowdfunder page for more information.

Image: Jacob Epstein’s sculpture Genesis arriving at Bluecoat, May 1931. Image Liverpool Daily Post. With thanks to Peter Hopgood.


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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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