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Liverpool Biennial: Everything you need to know about the huge free-to-see art event

11 months ago

Liverpool Biennial is back with a host of free events and activities for all the family this summer.

Liverpool Biennial has turned open spaces and venues across the city centre into a huge free-to-see art event, with amazing works everywhere from St Nick’s Gardens to Stanley Dock.

And, with kids breaking up for the summer holidays, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for all ages to get up close and get involved with the festival.

This Biennial features commissions from 35 artists from the UK and around the world who’ve been invited to Liverpool to make and present their work here. The festival is really family-friendly and, because the installations are dotted around the city centre, it couldn’t be easier to dip into.

Here’s everything you need to know about Liverpool Biennial and what to look out for over the summer …

The Sacred Return of Lost Things. Installation view at Tobacco Warehouse. Courtesy of Liverpool Biennial. Photography by Mark McNulty .jpg

When is the festival on?

The works were unveiled mid-June, but that was just the start of things. They’ll be in situ until September 17 and will be the focus for lots of activities and events that are planned over the next couple of months.

Is there any charge?

No, it’s absolutely free to see all the Biennial displays, whether they’re inside a gallery or museum, or in one of the open spaces, so it’s something all the family can do together without it costing anything. The family workshops in July and August are also all free and you can go on free drop-in tours to find out more about exhibitions at Cotton Exchange and Tobacco Warehouse on Thursdays and Saturdays, 2-2.30pm.

Liverpool Biennial 2023, uMoya_ The Sacred Return of Lost Things. Installation view at Victoria Gallery & Museum. Courtesy of Liverpool Biennial. Photography by Mark McNulty
Liverpool Biennial 2023, uMoya_ The Sacred Return of Lost Things. Installation view at Victoria Gallery & Museum. Courtesy of Liverpool Biennial. Photography by Mark McNulty

Where are the artworks?

You’ll find them at Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye, Tate Liverpool, Victoria Gallery & Museum and World Museum as well as in more unusual places like Stanley Dock, St Nicholas’s Churchyard, St John’s Gardens behind St George’s Hall and the Cotton Exchange. The main festival hub is at the Tobacco Warehouse next to Titanic Hotel. 

What’s happening for kids?

Liverpool Biennial Family Day free art workshops give mean they can get involved and get creative – all materials will be provided and they’re drop-in so no need to book.

29 July: Abstract sculpture workshop – Tobacco Warehouse
5 August: Short film making workshop – FACT Liverpool
12 August: Embracing Clay workshop – Tobacco Warehouse
19 August: Soundscape workshop – Victoria Gallery & Museum
26 August: Textiles and weaving workshop – Bluecoat

There’s a handy children’s guide which tells you everything going on VIEW IT HERE.

David Aguacheiro, ‘Take Away’, 2018. Liverpool Biennial 2023 at Open Eye Gallery. Courtesy of Liverpool Biennial. Photography by Mark McNulty

There are also dance workshops and performances

South African dance theatre company Unmute will be leading two workshops on July 22 at Bluecoatso children of all ages can try out choreography and ideas through music and physical theatre. No experience of dance is needed and kids of all abilities will be welcome. The sessions are free, but should be booked online in advance via the Liverpool Biennial What’s On page HERE.

Unmute will also be performing with local dancers at Capstone Theatre on August 5 & 6.

You can make your own city centre trail

Lots of the installations are within a few minutes’ walk of each other so you can easily create your own Biennial trail, taking in artworks at Tate Liverpool, Open Eye at Mann Island where you’ll find Sandra Suubi’s Samba Gown made from recycled plastic waste, the vibrant carnival mural by Rudy Loewe in Liverpool ONE which has been a really popular selfie spot, and then on to discover more at Bluecoat and FACT.

Ranti Bam, Ifas, 2023. Installation view at St Nicholas Church Gardens, Liverpool Biennial 2023. Photography by Mark McNulty. Courtesy Liverpool Biennial.

Watch one of the artists at work

If you’d like to find out exactly how Biennial art is made, head to the Cotton Exchange on the weekend of August 5 & 6 where artist Shannon Alonzo will be erasing and redrawing her mural Mangroves live while visitors watch.

Don’t just look, get hands-on with the artwork too

Most art exhibitions are look but don’t touch, but the Biennial is different – it has a couple you can get hands-on with. In St Nick’s Churchyard, artist Ranti Bam has seven new clay sculptures in a series titled ‘Ifa’, from the Yoruba word ‘I-fàá’ meaning to pull close, which can could be gently hugged. And The Victoria Gallery & Museum has two immersive Biennial works including Antonio Oba’s Jardim which is a field of little hand bells that you can walk through and ring as you go!

To find out all about the full programme, go to Biennial Liverpool’s website HERE.

Get the latest for Liverpool HERE.

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