Liverpool's centre for the contemporary arts

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  • Fri, 21 Jul 2017 - Sun, 01 Oct 2017
  • 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
  • Tickets: Free, drop in

Featuring Tom & Simon Bloor, Polly Brannan, Rhys Coren, Fran Disley, Kevin Hunt, Anssi Kasitonni, Yusuke Mashiba, Trine Lise Nedreaas, Emily Speed, Mark Simmonds, William Wegman, Huw Wahl, John Walmsley - Liverpool Free School

This summer, we invite children to take over our galleries, with Abacus - an interactive exhibition that encourages visitors of all ages to break the traditional rules of a contemporary art space. Artists from Liverpool and beyond have designed art works to inspire you to watch, draw, read and make.

To see the show and find out more before you visit, click here to check out our online image gallery and guide.

Commissions include Simon & Tom Bloor’s installation New possibilities in familar situations, which invites visitors to draw on the gallery walls using special chalk boards. Emily Speed will fill our largest gallery with child height replicas of architectural spaces, where strict rules and certain behaviours usually apply (such as courts and voting booths), transforming them into places of play and performance, complete with costumes.

Kids Video Art Program, a collaboration with Kunsthall Stavanger, features a selection of short films & animations by UK and international artists, including Trine Lise Nedreaas’ shimmering hula hoops, William Wegman’s synchronised dogs and Rhys Coren’s snapping fingers. Abacus responds to Bluecoat’s history as both a charity school and centre for the arts, also celebrating contemporary cultural spaces as alternative learning environments.

Related Events

Family Weekend: Abacus Extravaganza
Sat 19 & Sun 20 Aug
1 - 4pm 
Join us for a weekend of family arts activities inspired by 
Abacus. On Saturday, artists from Liverpool Improvisation Collective will take us through movement and dance based on Emily Speed’s work, alongside art activities for all the family. A BBQ with child-friendly options will be available. On Sunday, join us for art activities for all the family, including storytelling sessions at 2pm and 3pm for 4 – 7 year olds.

Free, drop in

Huw Wahl: Everything Lives (2016)
Thu 14 Sep
Founded by 
Ken Turner and his wife Mary Turner in 1968, Action Space used large inflatable sculptures to create interventions into public spaces. This film by Turner’s son Huw Wahl is a poignant study of an artist in his 90s returning to his first love, painting, while reflecting on the radical public art movement he helped found.

Tickets: £4/£3

Simon & Tom Bloor in conversation
Tues 19 Sep
Abacus artists Simon & Tom Bloor join Bluecoat’s Head of Programme Marie-Anne McQuay to discuss their latest commission New possibilities in familar situations, their enduring interest in educational experiments from the 1970s and their relevance to creative education today. 

Tickets: £4/£3

Emily Speed: Architectural Reveal
Sat 30 Sep
Abacus artist Emily Speed has created a wearable sculpture based on different eras of the Bluecoat building and its surrounding area. Join us as each layer is revealed in a performance work. Suitable for all ages. 

Megaphone Writes
Sat 30 Sep
Renowned children’s author Leila Rasheed and guest authors Danielle Jawando and Joyce Efia Harmer discuss Megaphone: a new development scheme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers who want to write their first children’s novel. This panel discussion is aimed at writers and those interested in debating the publishing industry.


Image Credit: Simon & Tom Bloor, Loose Parts.

When is it on?
  • July 21, 2017, 9:00 am - October 1, 2017, 5:00 pm

About the Bluecoat

Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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Tickets & Information

0151 702 5324 |

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