Celebrating a celebration

Independents Biennial 2018

Everything about Independents Biennial 2018 has been about ambition.

It was incredibly ambitious of Patrick to take on the organisation of an event which would be spread across the entirety of the Liverpool City Region and involving as many artists as possible.  Which was going to make public commissions and host events, as well as putting on exhibitions.  I hope the whole team are off for well-deserved holidays now, because it’s come together amazingly well.

Born from ambition, Independents has become a showcase for it.  The venue I’ve made the most visits to over the last few months has been George Henry Lee’s.  I’ve probably stopped in once a fortnight (on average), and every time there’s been something new to see. Which is pretty incredible for any space*, much less one which has

Unlike the other Biennial in town, Independents has put location at its heart, and the most fundamental part of it the art and artists which keep this city’s reputation for creativity.  It hasn’t been about forcing work into a shape for a centralised concept, but working with artists to find the right contexts to do them justice.  This means that there’s been a real sense that the work each artist is showing is the best reflection of what they do.  As if you didn’t know this already, but artists in the Liverpool City Region do a lot of different things, so it’s been great to have a space to explore this.  Furthermore, the only discrimination has been the question: “is it good?”.  This means that everyone’s had a seat at the table, from known names like Tom Wood to recent graduates.

And I haven’t even talked about the other venues around Merseyside that have been involved.  Or the film nights, talks and workshops which have also been fundamental to the programme.  Or how through giving a temporary home to ROAD Studios (after they evicted from their building at short notice) and facilitating writers-in-residence and publishing their responses, they’ve actively made space for creativity.

Chatting to various people at the closing party, there was a consensus that the Independents has been behind much of the most interesting and diverse art of the summer.  This being the first year its been run by Art in Liverpool I’m sure they’ve found it as much of a learning curve as a success story, but what a starting point.

To say much more feels redundant, so instead here’s a gallery of just a few of the things I have seen and admired over the last few months. I hope it gives you an impression of what there’s been to admire.

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*I will admit to not having visited as many of the outliers as I would have wanted (life does tend to get in the way).

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