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Bluecoat announces new Winter exhibitions & residencies

Winter exhibitions exploring the changing nature of artistic education - Artist explores the Race Relations Act with young people - Blue Room at 10 - International Residencies - Serena Korda’s The Bell Tree - New online archive of UK’s oldest arts centre

Bluecoat is delighted to announce its new season of exhibitions and residencies:

  • Three interlinked exhibitions explore the changing nature of artistic education with: Matthew Cornford & John Beck / Jade Montserrat / Joshua Henderson & Veronica Watson.
  • Photographer Scarlett Crawford works with young people from Liverpool as part of a UK-wide project with the Houses of Parliament.
  • Bluecoat’s inclusive arts project Blue Room celebrates 10 years.
  • International Residencies with artists from Indonesia, Czech Republic and India.
  • Serena Korda’s The Bell Tree National Trust/Bluecoat commission at Speke Hall and the Bluecoat garden.
  • Online archive My Bluecoat launches with photos, videos and documents from the building’s 300 year history, 100 years of it as an arts centre.

Winter Exhibitions: 17 November 2018 - 10 March 2019

Launch: Friday 16 November 6-9pm

The Art Schools of North West England
Matthew Cornford and John Beck

Instituting Care 
Jade Montserrat

Studio Me 
Joshua Henderson and Veronica Watson

Our Winter season of interlinked exhibitions focuses on the changing nature of artistic education. The historic role of independent art schools is explored in Matthew Cornford and John Beck’s exhibition, The Art Schools of North West England, while Jade Montserrat, in her drawing installation, asks vital questions of arts education now, how we value creativity and each other. Meanwhile Joshua Henderson and Veronica Watson, for whom Bluecoat’s inclusive arts project Blue Room has played an important role in their artistic journey, share this experience of their first studio residency with the public.

In The Art Schools of North West England, John Beck and Matthew Cornford have tracked down and photographed thirty art schools that were once a crucial part of the North West’s creative life. This selection shown for the first time at Bluecoat is part of an ongoing project documenting over 150 art schools that once existed. Most of them are now closed or absorbed into other institutions and the buildings repurposed, remodelled or demolished. What did it mean to have an art school in nearly every town and what can we learn by discovering their fate? Celebrating and reflecting on the once prominent place of art schools in the region, the exhibition invites us to question the value we place on creative education now, and how this might look in the future.

Scarborough-based artist Jade Montserrat works at the intersection of art and activism through drawing, painting, performance, film, installation, sculpture, print and text. Following a period in residence at Bluecoat earlier this year, she will transform the gallery walls with huge charcoal drawings as part of a wider installation, Instituting Care. The drawings are comprised of quotations and responses to key texts on decolonisation and decolonising knowledge by writers such as Frantz Fanon, Audre Lorde and Stuart Hall. Montserrat’s drawings will also feature fragments of text by local and international artists addressing vital questions such as who does art education serve and who should it serve? How do we value individual and collective creativity? And what could a care centred approach to education look like?

For Studio Me Joshua Henderson and Veronica Watson, who have developed their practice as members of Blue Room - Bluecoat’s inclusive arts programme for adults with learning difficulties - embark on their first residency, sharing work from their individual practices. Henderson’s architecture-inspired drawings have evolved through a newly developed etching practice, using Bluecoat’s print studio, while Watson’s portraiture practice has developed through observing the faces of the people who populate Bluecoat, including staff, volunteers and artists. The exhibition introduces audiences to both their work and the artists themselves, through drop-in activities and invitations to collaborate on artworks.

Showing in our Vide space:

First Waves - Liverpool,  Scarlett Crawford | 10 November - 25 November 2018

To mark the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Race Relations Act, London based photographic artist and educator Scarlett Crawford has been commissioned by UK Parliament to work with communities in Liverpool and across the country. At Bluecoat, she has collaborated with young people from the Greenhouse Project and Liverpool Community Spirit’s Multi-Faith Youth Council to create artworks which explore the impact of race relations legislation on their lives. The resulting exhibition features photographs, a soundscape and film, created in workshops at Bluecoat in Summer 2018. The full UK-wide project, featuring Scarlett’s collaborations with groups at Nottingham Contemporary and the Women’s Art Library, Glasgow, amongst other partners, will be presented at the Houses of Parliament in 2019.


Blue Room at 10 | 1 December 2018 - 10 March 2018 

Bluecoat’s inclusive arts project Blue Room, a year-round programme of art for adults with learning difficulties, celebrates ten years of creativity with an exhibition celebrating the anniversary. Inspired by images from the project’s extensive photographic archive, Blue Room artists have collaborated with Louise Waller and Alice Odgers from Baltic Clay to create a collection of ceramics. These reference Bluecoat’s acclaimed potter, Julia Carter Preston (1926 - 2012) and explore her sgraffito technique. The exhibition also features screen prints created at Bluecoat Print Studio.


The Bell Tree by Serena Korda | until July 2019

The Bell Tree is a new sound sculpture by British artist Serena Korda, situated in the ancient woodlands of Speke Hall, a National Trust property dating back to the 1500s. When standing in front of The Bell Tree visitors can listen to a soundscape audio on their phone and experience the ringing of bluebells played by the bell ringers of St Michael’s Church in Garston. These melodic sounds are accompanied by an angry band of fairies, performed by local choir Mostly Madrigals and a capella group, Mouthful. The new commission also includes a smaller element installed in Bluecoat’s courtyard garden. Commissioned by Bluecoat and Trust New Art, The National Trust’s programme of contemporary arts.

International Residencies | October 2018 - February 2019

As the UK’s longest running arts centre, we have provided space for artists and audiences at the heart of the city for over a century. This year, Bluecoat’s international residency programme continues to grow. Prague-based independent curator Zuzana Jakalová, from art space, is in residence in October and will continue research into health, disability and economic precariousness for her forthcoming publication, Multilogues on the Now. Bangalore-based artist and writer, Chinar Shah joins Bluecoat in October - November for the first of a two-part residency exploring feminism, intersectional politics and caste. Across January - February 2019, Bluecoat will also host Indonesian artist Nurrachmat Widyasena, who joins us for his first UK residency.


My Bluecoat | New online archive supported by Heritage Lottery Fund:

You can now delve into our history as the UK’s first arts centre on a new online archive, My Bluecoat. The new website contains fascinating material from the building’s 300-years history and its transformation from charity school founded in 1717 to the UK’s first arts centre at the turn of the twentieth century. The website includes films, historic documents, posters, brochures and hundreds of images from our exhibitions and events. Visit to learn more.

- ENDS -


Image credits, clockwise from top left:

1.Blue Room - The Bluecoat Studios ®Rob Battersby; 2. Jade Montserrat, The Last Place They Thought Of, Installation View, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, photo: Constance Mensh. 3. Blue Room - The Bluecoat 2018 - Pottery Work ©Rob Battersby 8. 4. The Storey, Lancaster College of Art School (detail) (2017), C-type print. Photograph by Matthew Cornford.



Matthew Cornford & John Beck - John Beck is a writer and academic based in the School of Humanities at the University of Westminster. Matthew Cornford is an artist and researcher and leads the Fine Art Critical Practice course at the University of Brighton. Their book The Art School and the Culture Shed was published in 2014, part of an ongoing research project to locate and document Britain's art schools. Cornford has exhibited widely and, as Cornford & Cross (with David Cross), was commissioned by Bluecoat for the Mixing It project (1997) to create Power to the People: A Happening, when they turned the gallery into a record fair for a day.

Jade Montserrat lives and works in Scarborough, North Yorkshire and is the Stuart Hall Foundation practice-based PhD candidate at The Institute for Black Atlantic Research, The University of Central Lancashire (2017-). Montserrat works at the intersection of art and activism through drawing, painting, performance, installation, sculpture, film, print and text. The artist interrogates these mediums with the aim to expose gaps in our visual and linguistic habits. She graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2003 and Norwich University of the Arts in 2010. Recent selected exhibitions, screenings, performances and presentations include: ICA Philadelphia 2018; Arnolfini, and Spike Island, Bristol (2017), and Princeton University (2016). Montserrat works collaboratively ?with artist and performance collectives including Network 11, Press Room, the Conway Cohort, Rainbow Tribe: Affectionate Movement and Ecology of Care Bureau. She is the recipient of the Jerwood Drawing Prize student award (2017). Her new commission for Art on the Underground launches December 2018.

Joshua Henderson and Veronica Watson - Joshua Henderson is a Liverpool-based visual artist and musician with a passion for the architecture and heritage of his home city. Since becoming a member of Blue Room in 2015, the 300 year-old Bluecoat building has often featured in Henderson’s work appearing in drawings, paintings, sculpture and animation. Veronica Watson is a founder member of both Blue Room and People First Merseyside. Watson has many years experience as a self-advocate, speaking out for the rights of learning disabled people. Most recently she has advocated for greater recognition for learning disabled artists, presenting at large arts industry conferences. Watson’s artistic practice focuses on accurate observational drawings of the people and places around her.

Scarlett Crawford (b. 1982) is a British artist who is passionate about equality and diversity in the arts and education, and has worked as an artist and educator within the community and creative industries for the past ten years. Her photographic work examines the semiotics of race and class using lens-based media to create images that portray narratives of the underrepresented, without reinforcing their position as ‘Other’. She juxtaposes object, person and place in participatory constructed portraiture that is both jarring and surreal, blurring the lines between fact and fiction, stage and document. As a qualified teacher, she has worked in schools, pupil referral units and youth offending services. As an artist she has worked with organisations such as Photofusion and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Scarlett Crawford has been appointed by the UK Parliament for a new project entitled First Waves: Exploring the impact of race relations legislation in the UK. Over the course of her residency, she will hold workshops with six partner organisations across the country, including Bluecoat, to create artworks with local people which explore and celebrate the 1965, 1968 and 1976 Race Relations Acts. The project is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Race Relations Act. Visit

Serena Korda’s work reconsiders aspects of tradition in our lives, under-explored feminist narratives - herstories - and alternative histories of folklore and witchcraft. She was the 2016-17 Norma Lipman & BALTIC Fellow in Ceramic Sculpture at Newcastle University, and has curated The Daughters of Necessity exhibition at The Hepworth (Dec 2017 - Jun 2018), choosing ceramic works from their collection, sited alongside her own. She is currently working on a new commission for Horniman Museum & Gardens.

Blue Room is Bluecoat’s inclusive arts programme for learning disabled adults. Since 2008, three groups of Blue Room artists have met weekly at the gallery to explore the exhibitions and create their own artwork. Members are supported to develop creative and social skills, building confidence and greater independence.

For further information please contact:

Laura Stevens | Media and Marketing Manager

0151 702 7770 |

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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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