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Artists commissions at the heart of new Bluecoat Hub

We're delighted to announce the artists commissioned to create artwork for the redevelopment of our entrance and cafe spaces.

Harold Offeh, Babak Ganjei and Sumuyya Khader have been selected to create site specific artworks which will be woven into the fabric of our building.

The artists commissions are part of a scheme to redevelop our entrance space (known as The Hub) to create a more welcoming and easy to navigate visitor experience. The scheme for the Grade I building has been developed by Architectural Emporium, a Liverpool based practice, in partnership with the Bluecoat team.

The artists were selected through a steering group including artist advisor Frances Disley and Bluecoat’s Senior Curator Adam Lewis-Smythe

Bluecoat Senior Curator Adam Lewis-Smythe said: ‘We really want visitors to experience artworks the minute they step into Bluecoat. The commissions offer an encounter with art beyond the gallery, in places that we might not normally expect to see artworks. We selected artists that offer something beautiful, thought-provoking and welcoming to our visitors. Each artist brings something unique to our new interior, but each share our ambition to bring people closer to art and artists. In a building full of artists working in their studios, in workshops and in our galleries, it feels entirely fitting to embed the work of artists into the fabric of our building.’ 

In addition to the artists’ commissions there will be a display in the Hub that brings to the fore some of the activities that go on in the building, that visitors don’t necessarily see. The exhibition will reveal the work we do in our participation projects, artists we work with and behind the scenes initiatives. 

About the artists

Harold Offeh

Cambridge-based artist Harold Offeh has been commissioned to create an area specifically for children and families in the Hub space. Offeh uses a range of media including performance, video, photography and collaborative arts practice, and uses humour to explore histories and themes of gender, politics, race and class. Offeh has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including Tate Britain and Tate Modern, South London Gallery, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Wysing Art Centre, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, MAC VAL, France, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark and Art Tower Mito, Japan.

Offeh is interested in the space created by the inhabiting or embodying of histories. He employs humour as a means to confront the viewer with historical narratives and contemporary culture. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including Tate Britain and Tate Modern, South London Gallery, Turf Projects, London, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Wysing Art Centre, Studio Museum Harlem, New York, MAC VAL, France, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark and Art Tower Mito, Japan.

He studied Critical Fine Art Practice at The University of Brighton, MA Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art and recently completed a PhD by practice exploring the activation of Black Album covers through durational performance. He lives in Cambridge and works in London and Leeds, UK where he is currently a Reader in Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University and a tutor in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art, London.

Upcoming projects include a new video commission exploring the redemptive power of joy through social dance for the Wellcome Collection's (London) season Joy and Tranquillity. Offeh, will be exhibiting as part of 'Untitled, Art on the Conditions of Our Time' a major group exhibition of British artists of African descent at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, UK. Hail the New Prophets, will see Offeh realise his first major public sculpture as part of the Bold Tendencies exhibition in Peckham, London.

Babak Ganjei

London-based Babak Ganjei has produced three artworks, printed on tiles which wrap around our new Information desk. Ganjei uses comedy as a way of reflecting on art, his ambitions and the absurdity of daily life. In 2014, he famously sold twigs from his local park upon the realisation that his neighbourhood had suddenly become affluent and desirable. He has made short films for Channel 4’s random acts, hosts a radio show on NTS and has made a documentary and series for BBC radio 4 in which his teenage son attempts to fix his father’s, and listeners, problems.

Ganjei graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins in 2001. Since then he has been working independently as an artist, playing in bands (Absentee, Wet Paint), writing comic books (Hilarious Consequences, Early Learnings, Twit) and hosting regular radio show "Hot Mess" on NTS radio. In 2014 Babak sold a set of twigs from his neighbourhood on eBay for £62. He has turned books by Jeremy Clarkson, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump into works of blackout poetry, and tried to sell a painting of his credit card back to Barclays for the value of the debt. It didn’t work but he made a “friend”. His "Everything is really bad..." exhibition was shown at Atom in March 2019.

Sumuyaa Khader

Liverpool based Sumuyya Khader is an artist and illustrator and has created a bespoke tile design linking the building and the much-loved Bluecoat Garden. Khader recently set up Granby Press, a community-based organisation with a focus on printed material and design. She exhibited in Bluecoat’s 2017 group exhibition, In the Peaceful Dome, was commissioned to produce a set of one-off posters for a series of exhibitions at Bluecoat in the winter of 2019, and organised an exhibition of Black artists from Liverpool on the exterior of our building in 2020.

Khader works in a multiplicity of ways within the sector working with major institutions, projects, publishers, social enterprises and artist-led groups. Her practice is a combination of illustration, drawing & print works that predominantly explore place and identity. In addition to her work at Granby Press Khader is also developing an archive of black culture and history in the L8 area of Liverpool. The project is funded by Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 


Image credits 

Babak Ganjei. Image credit: Jonny L Davies 

Harold Offeh. Image credit: Alex O’Brien

Image courtesy of Sumyya Khader

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