The most recent exhibition at the Bluecoat Gallery, “Public View” showcases over a hundred artists; previously featured during the gallery’s many displays, as an ode to celebrate and commemorate its 300th anniversary this year. “Public View” emphasises the key role that the Bluecoat has played in the world of the arts and the progress and nurturing of many artist’s careers, locally and internationally; along with its own surprising history, from its original roots as a boy’s orphanage, to the gallery that it is today.
On display, a hugely diverse collection presents the success and failures in the world, in the arts, in this ever-changing society. Most notably, the pieces that struck me and those that held the most sentiment included a digitised screen, a metallic 3D model and a mixed media piece.
“The Trophies of Empire” originally produced in 1984 by Keith Piper, first displayed in the Bluecoat in 1985, was reproduced this year specifically for this exhibition. The digital aspect of this piece makes it accessible for the majority of the public, and keeps the interest of the audience high, with constantly changing screens and images. Depicting the prejudices and cruelty that minority communities are subject to, this series of rolling images stands to ignite a certain thought process, one which alters the mind set of people who wouldn’t have been otherwise exposed to such factual truths.
Sokari Douglas Camp’s “Battle Bus” (maquette) is a demonstration of structural delicacy, created originally in 2006. Use of steel, gold leaf and copper leaf to create this piece creates a sense of rough authenticity; the reference to genocide, in the text on the side of the bus, pays great tribute to a Nigerian activist, making this piece intensely personal. In the same room as Piper’s digitised reproduction, an overwhelming sense of empathy and regret begins to take over, with the inevitable comparisons to current affairs that the pieces generate.
Newspaper is a common feature in many modern and abstract galleries, and Peter Kennard’s 1994 piece; “Newspaper 6”, is no exception. Using carbon toner, charcoal and pastel on the newspaper base, Kennard allows for an ambiguity of secrecy and shade within the piece, to be interpreted by its audience. The framed piece hangs on the corner in a maze-like room, perfectly placed for maximum exposure and appreciation. Being a completely different style of artwork to the framed pieces that are situated in the surrounding area, this piece stands out and is made all the more interesting for it’s unique format.
These are just a few of the captivating pieces on display in this “Public View” exhibition which celebrates the role art has to play in the development of cultural diversity, and the ways in which the Bluecoat as an institution has contributed to and celebrated cultural diversity in Liverpool through its’ exhibited collections over the years.
Running up until Sunday 23rd April, “Public View” can only be praised and recommended with highest regards, it would be a crime to miss out on the experience of such a diverse array of art.