Throughout 2019, the Vide space is hosting exhibitions about Bluecoat’s long history as an arts centre, the first in the UK. Formalised in 1927 with the establishment of Bluecoat Society of Arts, this followed two decades of activities organised by a group of artists, the Sandon Studios Society, who had moved into the building in 1907.
The exhibitions, performances, commissions and residencies represented here reflect the support and promotion of new and emerging art by the arts centre over several decades.
This includes open submission exhibitions and survey's of new work, particularly by local artists; first shows by students and recent graduates; early career opportunities for artists who went on to wider success; exhibitions reflecting new tendencies in art from abroad; and early presentations by well-known artists like Yoko Ono and US musician Captain Beefheart, whose first exhibition of paintings was at Bluecoat.
On display are posters of exhibitions and events, photographs of gallery installations and performances, and printed material relating to Bluecoat programmes including exhibition brochures and invitation cards. The exhibition continues upstairs with a video documenting a selection of events from the 1960s to 2008 and posters from exhibitions by women artists who have shown at Bluecoat. A heritage display along the ground floor corridor by the Vide also features past arts programmes.