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Bluecoat Chief Executive Mary Cloake on our spring season

Chief Executive Mary Cloake introduces our new programme of events and exhibitions and shares what she's most looking forward to.

Welcome to our spring season at Bluecoat, which has been shaped around the ways in which we form bonds with each other through art and culture. The pressures of contemporary life compel us to move further away from the myth of the artist as a solitary genius, toiling away in isolation. Instead, we must look for ways in which we can connect to each other through the arts and support one another to think and act creatively.

Our lead exhibition, Survey, is a demonstration of the bond between early career and established artists. The exhibition showcases work by 15 of the most exciting early career artists today, who have been nominated by 35 established artists including Rachel Maclean and Ryan Gander. The support of experienced practitioners can be vital to the early stages of artists’ careers, and in turn new, often experimental, practices are essential to the liveliness of the culture we enjoy. 

But, the affinity between professional artists is not the only way in which artistic work connects us. The connection between artists and audiences can be lasting and memorable. Over the past three years, the dance group Liverpool Improvisation Collective have explored this bond between artist and audience through our pioneering programme of new dance, INHABIT, which concludes this year. In March, Paula Hampson’s New Territory - Real Liveswill reflect on her recent work engaging communities in participation and improvisation through dance. 

This season we continue working with new audiences in our off-site programme. Artist Suki Chan and dancer Mary Prestidge are amongst a group of artists, dancers, writers and performers who have been commissioned to create workshops and experiences for residents of Belong Villages, innovative residential areas built to provide dignified housing and care for those on a dementia journey. 

Giving artists the space to experiment, make connections with new communities and the time to develop their ideas is essential to their work. This season we host artist Chinar Shah from Banagalore, India as artist in residence, as she develops her own ideas around feminism and global politics. Art can connect us across natal borders, and to mark European Day of Artistic Creativity on 21st March, we will hold a special lunch event with artists in residence Saelia Aparicio (Valladolid) and Luca Arboccò (Genoa). Aparicio and Arboccò will share their ideas and experiences of making and exhibiting their work across Europe.

Collaborations across art-form have a long history at Bluecoat, and this spring we welcome back WoWFest, Writing on the Wall’s annual literature festival, with an exciting series of events.

Our family programme continues to offer opportunities for families to connect with each other through artistic activities. Join in with one of our monthly workshops, share a laugh at the Funny Looking Kids Comedy Club or start your little one on their cultural journey early with our ever-popular Baby Book Club.

Enabling us to connect with each other is one of the essential qualities of art, whether through an exhibition that inspires us, a poetry reading that moves us or a dance performance that revitalises us. Our new programme prioritises these qualities, which we look forward to sharing with you this spring.

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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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