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Bluecoat Exhibitions History: Northern Peripheries

  • Wed, 15 Mar 2017
  • 6.30 PM - 8.30 PM
  • Tickets: £4/£3

Installation shot from Connections exhibition, 1986.

Presented with Liverpool John Moores University Exhibition Studies, this panel discussion considers key strands of Bluecoat’s gallery programme since the 1970s. Dr Michael Birchall (Liverpool John Moores University & Tate Liverpool), Professor Julie Sheldon (LJMU), Gabriel Gee (Franklin University, Switzerland and author of Art in the North of England, 1979-2008) and Anjalie Dalal-Clayton (Black Artists and Modernism project) join Public View curator Bryan Biggs.

A series of short presentations and a round table discussion will focus on selected exhibitions that reflect specific curatorial characteristics of Bluecoat’s programme. These include its ongoing engagement with art that addresses issues around diversity, race and difference. The way the gallery spaces have changed over time will be explored, as their configuration – and documentation - has reflected developments in artistic practice, from painting to installation and moving image, and the different display requirements these have demanded.

This longitudinal perspective will come right up to the present by considering the current Public View exhibition, with its breadth of media and selection of artists - local, UK and international. The speakers will also consider the extent to which Bluecoat is a recognisably Northern gallery and whether this ‘peripheral’ positioning largely outside of the mainstream has contributed to the directions and distinctiveness of its exhibition programming. The evening will conclude with an opportunity for the audience to contribute to the debate in a question and answer session.

Professor Julie Sheldon

Julie Sheldon is Professor of Art History at Liverpool John Moores University, where she is also Dean of the Graduate School. Her books include: Modern Art: A Critical Introduction (2nd edition, 2004) and Making American Art (2008) (both co-authored with Pam Meecham); Art in a City Revisited (co-edited with Bryan Biggs); The Letters of Elizabeth Rigby, Lady Eastlake (2009); Art for the Nation: The Eastlakes in the Victorian Art World (2011) (with Susanna Avery-Quash); and The Della Robbia Pottery: From Renaissance to Regent Street (2015).

Dr Michael Birchall

Dr Michael Birchall holds a collaborative post with Tate Liverpool where he is curator of public practice, and Senior Lecturer in Exhibition Studies at Liverpool John Moores University.  His research is concentrated around socially engaged, curatorial practice and theory, and exhibition histories from the 1960s onwards. Previously he has held curatorial appointments at The Western Front (Vancouver, Canada), The Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre (Canada), Künstlerhaus Stuttgart (Germany); and has lectured at Zurich University of the Arts. His writing has appeared in Frieze, ARKEN Bulletin, On Curating, Modern Painters, C-Magazine, Art & the Public Sphere, and various catalogues and monologues.

Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton

Dr Anjalie Dalal-Clayton is an art historian and research fellow with the AHRC-funded Black Artists & Modernism research project at University of the Arts London. As part of the research, she is conducting a nation-wide audit of works by black artists in UK public collections, monographic research on Keith Piper and Sonia Boyce, and expanding on her ongoing research of black British exhibition histories. She undertook her PhD at Liverpool John Moores University, which examined how recent exhibitions have critically and historically positioned black artists, and which also presented the first in-depth history of the Bluecoat’s work with black artists. Anjalie has held positions at Tate, London Borough of Southwark’s cultural development agency, and at other museums, galleries and cultural organisations in London.

Gabriel Gee

Gabriel Gee is an art historian who lives and works in Switzerland. His research interest include British art in the 20th century, forms and discourses in the visual arts in Northern Ireland in the late 20th century, and the changing imaginaries of port cities in the 19th and 20th centuries. His monograph on Art in the North of England 1979-2008 was published by Ashgate/Routledge in 2016. Gabriel is currently finalizing an edited publication with co-editor Alison Vogelaar on the changing representations of nature in cities in the 1960s/70s. He is the co-founder of the research group on Textures and Experiences of Trans-Industriality (

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