In this week's newsletter we revisit Keith Piper's Bluecoat exhibition Unearthing the Banker's Bones from 2016. Its centrepiece was a synchronised three-video projection that dissected modern life from the perspective of an imagined future. Given recent events, the film feels especially relevant and thought-provoking today.
Another artist who experimented in time travel, the pioneering ‘Afro-futurist’ jazz musician Sun Ra, made a rare visit to Liverpool in 1990, and his legendary Bluecoat gig is captured here. The event is further brought to life in an evocative short story, A Different Sky by Liverpool writer Dinesh Allirajah, that features this memorable gig.
Need an activity to keep the children occupied during homeschool? Try out our family activity to create a journal inspired by Keith Piper's exhibition and current events.
If you've ever felt the urge to write your own short story, now could be the perfect time to put pen to paper. Guest blogger and Double Negative editor Mike Pinnington shares his experience of Comma Press' Short Story Course, with useful advice along the way.
Keith Piper Unearthing the Banker's Bones
Commissioned by Bluecoat and Iniva for the Arts Council Collection’s 70th anniversary, Keith Piper’s three-screen video installation was premiered in our gallery in 2016/17.
The artist’s relationship with Bluecoat stretches back to his first exhibition in 1985. At the forefront of the Black Art movement, he remains a key figure in British art, making innovative use of technology in his work, which also encompasses painting, printmaking and installation.
Here the artist introduces his film, which adopts a narrative device used in science fiction – looking back on the present through the eyes of our descendants - to analyse contemporary realities, including concerns about race, class, and social and economic collapse. Piper describes his working process, and the influence of the apocalyptic fiction of Octavia Butler, Mary Shelley and others.
Find our more about this exhibition, along with more of Piper's work on his website.
Sun Ra and his Cosmic Love Arkestra
The legendary US jazz musician, who claimed to be from Saturn, brought his otherworldly music to Bluecoat on 8 June 1990. This memorable night resembled a rave as a large crowd packed into the concert hall (the present Bistro) for 90 minutes of intense playing, taking in a wide sweep of 20th century African American music, from gospel to swing to free jazz. This pioneer of Afrofuturism is captured on hand-held video, so the recording quality is rough - but absolutely compelling.
Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs and Jayne Casey, who was our live programmer at the time, talk about this and other memorable Bluecoat gigs in this Bido Lito podcast. Listen here.
Dinesh Allirajah: A Different Sky
This short story by Dinesh Allirajah (1967-2014) revolves around a group of friends attending the Sun Ra concert at Bluecoat. It was published in The Book of Liverpool (2008) and included in the anthology of his writing, Scent (2016), both published by Comma Press. Dinesh, who was seconded from Liverpool City Council to Bluecoat in 1996 as literature programmer, returning as events programmer (2002-04), was instrumental in developing a more diverse music, spoken word and performance offer at the arts centre.
Initially hosted at Bluecoat and now taking place online while our building remains closed, the course aims to equip participants with the skills and confidence to develop their own short story writing.
Family Activity: Future History Journal
We are living through history at the moment. Use our Future History Journal to help your child create a record of their life during lockdown 2020, through drawings, letters and logbooks.
As a charity, we rely on the income generated by our cafe, bistro and events programme. While our building remains closed in line with guidance from Public Health England, we're losing a huge portion of our income.
Do you regularly visit Bluecoat for a coffee or lunch? We would be so grateful if you could consider donating what you might have spent. Your support will help us to reopen as soon as possible after the restrictions are lifted.