Halfway through November sees the Bluecoat’s Winter Exhibition Launch, this year featuring three main displays: Studio Me by Joshua Henderson and Veronica Watson, Instituting Care by Jade Monserrat and The Art Schools of North West England by John Beck and Matthew Conford. Each exhibition is entirely different from its neighbour, covering self-portraiture, conversations about decolonisation and the history of art education, making the journey through the gallery as a whole a highly stimulating experience.

The exhibition that features first as you walk into the Bluecoat’s gallery is Studio Me, occupying the Blue Room. This room serves as the centre of the inclusive arts programme at the Bluecoat, which aims to support individual members with their artistic development. Both of the artists, Watson and Henderson are members themselves, and the blue walls display portraits from Watson and the architectural drawings of Henderson. If interactive workshops and activities are your thing, then drop by to meet the artists and even have a go at creating art yourself!

Adjacent to the Blue Room, Jade Monserrat’s Instituting Care offers a striking divergence from Watson and Henderson’s playful and lighthearted exhibition. The main feature of the installation is the large scale charcoal drawings from ceiling to floor, taking quotes from authors on decolonisation, as well as Monserrat’s own writings on education. The quotes themselves will be altered by invited peers as part of an event, which should prove to raise interesting discussion. In the centre of the room a circular structure stands with seats and books, serving as a collaborative space for reading groups and life-drawing sessions that will take place in the upcoming months.  

Finally, the downstairs and upstairs gallery rooms exhibit John Beck and Matthew Conford’s project on tracking down the fate of art schools across the North West. Framed on the walls are pictures of the buildings that once held these art schools, accompanied by information about their history. The exhibition raises questions as to why so many art schools were shut down, when there were once 150 across the country in the 1960s, and the impact this has had on arts education since. This is particularly pertinent to Liverpool, as John Lennon was an art student, highlighting the importance of these institutions.

While initially, these three interlinked exhibitions seem visually at odds with one another, their overarching questioning of arts education and its development through time up to the modern-day makes for an interesting exploration of an educational sector that is clearly overlooked.

The Bluecoat’s Winter Season Exhibitions run from the 17th of November to the 10th of March. More information can be found on the website.

Featured image credit: thebluecoat.org.uk