Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, is delighted to share the first highlights from their spring 2020 – spring 2021 exhibition programme.

Bluecoat is an inclusive arts centre in the heart of Liverpool, offering a year-round programme of exhibitions and a range of music, dance, literature, live art and heritage activities and events. As custodians of an historic building, which marked its 300-year anniversary in 2017, they are also home to around thirty artists, collectives, arts organisations and craftspeople.

As the UK’s first arts centre, they have a rich artistic heritage. The ambition is to be an artists’ hub for the North, increasing the visibility of and opportunities for the region’s artists, and internationally recognised for their residency and exchange programmes. They want to develop new approaches to audience development, expanding opportunities in the arts for all and reaching those who would otherwise face barriers to involvement in the arts.

Spring 2020 – Jonathan Baldock & Frances Disley

Jonathan Baldock


Fri 13 Mar – Sun 21 Jun 2020

Opening Thu 12 Mar, 6-9pm

Installation view: Jonathan Baldock, Facecrime, solo exhibition, Camden Arts Centre, London, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Luke Walker.

We are delighted to welcome back Jonathan Baldock, Freelands Foundation artist in residence at Bluecoat January 2018, for his solo exhibition, Facecrime. The main installation contains a

landscape of ceramic columns inspired by cuneiform-inscribed tablets – an early system of writing – dating from 2500BC. Baldock’s version presents an alternative history of clay as a tool of communication; his ceramic columns feature expressive faces, emoji symbols and make audible groans, whistles and chuckles through concealed speakers. The columns are also adorned with weaving, basketry and glass drawn from different eras of labour, folklore and storytelling like an archeological find from a parallel universe. The exhibition title itself is inspired by Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984 – a facecrime being an “unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself” suggesting that there was something to hide.

Facecrime was commissioned by Camden Arts Centre through the Freelands Lomax Ceramics Fellowship.

Frances Disley

Pattern Buffer

Fri 13 Mar – Sun 21 Jun 2020

Opening Thu 12 Mar, 6-9pm

Frances Disley, Tripleflex. 2019. Performance still at Bluecoat. Photo by George Ellis.

As part of Bluecoat’s ongoing commitment to supporting outstanding Northern artists, we are pleased to present a solo show by Frances Disley. As a starting point for her work Disley has previously used the colourways of a high fashion tracksuit to create a moving painting and a community aerobics class as the setting for a dance performance and installation. She is interested in the things we do to feel better about ourselves, while eschewing the elitism found within the self-care industry with its obsessions with conventional beauty, ideal body mass and self-regard.

For Pattern Buffer, as with many of her previous installations, Disley will layer multi-sensory elements to create an environment that invites gallery visitors to make use of her art works, whether that is to pause and rest in comfort, share a hobby or take something from the space. Reference points for her upcoming solo show Pattern Buffer include dominoes clubs, hair accessories as art, plants which survive from moisture in the air and the Holodeck, a device from the Star Trek science fiction series in which participants engage with different virtual reality environments.

Summer – Autumn 2020

Liverpool Biennial 2020 & Tony Phillips

We’re delighted to host Liverpool Biennial 2020, whose full venue by venue programme will be announced Spring 2020. Concurrently we will display new work by Liverpool born artist Tony Phillips.

Liverpool Biennial 2020, Graphic Identity by Dr Lakra

Liverpool Biennial 2020: The Stomach and the Port

Sat 11 Jul – Sun 25 Oct 2020

Opening days Thu 9 – Fri 10 Jul 2020

This summer Bluecoat will work with Liverpool Biennial on the 11th edition of the festival which

will take the theme of The Stomach and the Port. The festival will feature over 50 international artists, including several on display at Bluecoat, and will explore how we use our bodies to connect with the world.

Tony Phillips

12 Decades

Sat 11 Jul – Sun 25 Oct 2020

Tony Phillips, Rite of Spring 1919-1920. 2019. Etching.

Tony Phillips’ etching series 12 Decades continues a survey of modern history that has occupied him over the last 40 years. It complements a new installation, 20th Century Chapel that he is working on for Liverpool’s ‘Bombed Out Church’, St. Luke’s, later in 2020, and a proposed pedestrian trail of public artworks between the two buildings, which were both badly damaged in the Second World War.

The sequence of 12 etchings at Bluecoat narrates key events and man-made phenomena from 1900 to the present, from the pioneering inventions that heralded the modern age to the mass-production and consumerism that characterise life today. The focus is on the nature of technological progress evinced by Man’s age-old aspiration to fly, starting with an image of the first powered flight (1903), and proceeding through the decades into the modern era of supersonic jet fighters and drones.

While the etchings follow a tradition of graphic narrative documenting human desires and failures, St Luke’s chapel is presented as a surviving relic of the modern age. The public is invited to contemplate these themes in the light of both an art gallery space and the commemorative monument to human tragedy represented by the Bombed Out Church.

The project will be presented during the 2020 Liverpool Biennial in the Independents Biennial programme. It is supported by Arts Council England.

Winter 2020

Bluecoat welcomes Wales in Venice 2019 artist Sean Edwards to Liverpool with a solo show relating to memory and place. The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of events which reflect on the contemporary and historic associations that Liverpool has had with Welsh culture.

Sean Edwards

Undo Things Done

Sat 7 Nov 2020 – Sun 14 Mar 2021

Opening Fri 6 Nov 6-9pm

Installation view of Undo Things Done, 2019, Sean Edwards. © Jamie Woodley

Undo Things Done, a poetic inquiry into place, politics and class intertwined with personal

histories, takes as its starting point Sean Edwards’ experience of growing up on a council estate in Cardiff in the 1980s. The artist captures and translates what he calls a condition of ‘not expecting much’ into a shared visual language; one that evokes a way of living familiar to a great number of people.

Edwards’ emotionally resonant body of work – film, sculptures, prints and Welsh quilts – was produced for Wales in Venice on the occasion of the 2019 Venice Biennale and guest curated by our Head of Programme Marie-Anne McQuay. As a project partner we’re thrilled to bring the exhibition here to Liverpool as the artist evolves the work and its concerns. Elements of the Venice show will span Bluecoat’s four gallery spaces interwoven with new and older works that resonate with the same sense of autobiography found in Undo Things Done. These include Maelfa, 2010 a film shot by the artist in the 1970s shopping centre of the Llanedeyrn estate where Edwards grew up and which provides the precursor to Undo Things Done nearly a decade later.

Spring 2021

In Spring 2021 we welcome back residency artist Suki Chan whose investigations into perception, memory and dementia illuminate how consciousness itself works.

Suki Chan


Sat 27 Mar – Sun 13 Jun 2020

Opening Fri 26 Mar, 6-9pm

Image: Wellcome Collection. CC BY-NC

We are excited to be collaborating with London based artist Suki Chan on her new interdisciplinary project which includes a strand of research about dementia; in 2018 Chan was one of a number of artists invited by Bluecoat to work in Belong Villages – villages set up to allow those on a dementia journey to live the fullest and most social life possible. Her residency was part of Bluecoat’s embedded Where the Arts Belong project supported by the UK wide Celebrating Age, a fund established by Arts Council England and Baring Foundation specifically to support innovative approaches to engaging older people with the arts.

Suki Chan presents CONSCIOUS, a multi-platform project bringing together diverse, subjective perspectives of scientists and ordinary people, whose stories unwrap layers of thinking and preconceptions about individual and collective consciousness. Comprising a series of films, moving image installations and a VR experience, CONSCIOUS explores the nuances of what it means to be conscious in a technological age.

The work includes documentary testimonies from people living with dementia, neuroscientists, computer scientists, pilots, historians and beekeepers, along with soundtracks composed by award winning TV and film composer Dominik Scherrer.