Independents Biennial launches on Saturday 20 March
Sam Venables, Film Still from Bonanza, 2021
A social pharmacy, a photography and writing project in Thatto Heath, crypto embroidery and an exploration of post-colonial language are just some of the works that will be free to explore digitally and in print from the 34 artists at Independents Biennial.
On 20 March, everyone around the region can pick up a copy of a printed gallery in supermarkets around Merseyside.
The festival, which runs alongside Liverpool Biennial, exists to celebrate the region’s own creative life and cast a fresh perspective on how people in Merseyside see, make and use art.
With a programme taking place online at independentsbiennial.com artists’ work can be viewed and explored online, alongside conversations, workshops and writing. There will also be a gallery on newsprint, available at select supermarkets across Liverpool city region.
A selection of the artist projects include;
→ Emmer Winder’s Social Pharmacy, collecting positive mantras and phrases that have helped people get through the Covid-19 pandemic. Sourced through one to one workshops and social media, the phrases will be turned into prescriptions on medicine bottles, displayed to give a sense of collective wellbeing and advice on positivity in the face of adversity. The one to one workshops will see Emmer work with a single participant to create a mantra which will be turned into T shirts and postcards through screen printing.
→ Photographer Kevin Crooks and writer Callan Waldron-Hall are collaborating on a project in the Thatto Heath area of St Helens. Talking to local residents, experiences of 2020 are turned into pictures and words forming a hyperlocal community reflection of the past year.
→ Combining crypto art and craft, Sorrell Kerrison has created a new work that explores the experience of motherhood through self-portraits. Taking images of herself before and after giving birth, the works communicate her sense of identity, and change of life.
→ Artist Jay Hampton is creating recipe videos using hyperlocal plant life and weeds, like Dandelion Lemonade, to highlight the loss of natural space, like wildflower meadows
→ Sufea Mohamad Noor has created a new work using language, design and typography to reflect on post-colonial discourse and the power of words, both good and bad.
Alongside the artwork, weekly writing, podcasts and conversation will explore a series of themes affecting independent artists.
These will include; artist’s pay, artist studios, how we define artists and where they sit within cities like Liverpool with a culture led visitor economy, home-working for artists and mental health, funding priorities for the arts, arts hierarchy and the role of galleries.
Audiences and artists can join the conversation via Independents Biennial social channels, and via the website and newsletter.
Patrick Kirk-Smith is Festival Director:
“From the start we have recognised that this festival might be different to those in the past, but that this provided an opportunity for artists and us to reflect on what is important to them. As a festival, we exist to shout about and celebrate the artists that make up Liverpool City Region’s grassroots creative community. We want to give those artists a voice, through their work and their experience, and this year’s festival allows us to do just that.
In partnership with Metal Liverpool, Independents Biennial is working with Pierce Starre, Sufea Mohamad Noor, Jay Hampton and Sorrell Kerrison. The four artists have access to free studio space at Metal for several months leading up to the live programme, and we will be commissioning their work for the final programme.”
In partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Sam Venables, Feiyi Wen and Monste Mosquera were selected for a digital window display. Thanks to the additional funding from Arts Council England, they will now be working in residence during the programme, alongside a team of artist hosts.
Already commissioned artists in St Helens, thanks to an ongoing partnership with the council’s Arts in Libraries service, will be represented in new ways through the programme space following project development with each of the artists. These artists include Emmer Winder, Fiona Stirling, Grace Collins, Kevin Crooks, Stephanie Fry and Sarah Gilman.
We’re also supporting new work produced by artists and collectives from around the North West, including, ROOT-ed, Mark Simmonds, Rule of Threes, Mark Hobbs, Avoid HaHa Collective and Alan Dunn’s FOUR WORDS: WIRRAL.
As part of the 2021 edition, and building on work taking place through 2020, Independents Biennial will work with the newly established Artist Studio Network, connecting the independent studios based within the city region, helping to keep artists and institutions connected as their work develops.