Liverpool Arts Diary: new Almodóvar film, a trip to the Moon and Unity Autumn season – August 2019


Antonio Banderas in Pedro Almodóvar’s Pain and Glory (Credit: Pain & Glory Facebook page)

A brand new film by Pedro Almodóvar, a cutting-edge exhibition from an Italian master and a trip into space as Getintothis’ Rick Leach makes a late New Year’s resolution.

Sometimes- a lot of the time really- we take things for granted.

Familiarity may not always breed contempt, but rather a sense of indifference.  So this is the way we may we react to the plethora of arts and culture which are on offer right on our doorstep in our city.

There’s been a significant rise in visitors to our museums, which we have documented before on Getintothis, and that is of course a good thing, yet we wonder how many of those visitors are residents of Liverpool and Merseyside and how many are tourists, here for the day only?

It’s difficult to know but you can suppose there are some statistics, some data, some spreadsheets lurking around that will break it down and show us what the score is

However, and I am only speaking from personal experience at this point, but there have been times when I half-toyed with popping into town and wandering around the many museums and galleries. Not to see anything in particular, but just to go.

Yet something always crops up.

There’s always excuses. It’s raining. It’s too hot. There are many other things to do. Life gets in the way. (Ironically, writing this monthly Arts Diary is a very convenient excuse).

It’s so easy to develop the mindset that ‘it’ll always, be there…I can go another time.’

And yet…and yet…

We know how quickly and suddenly things and places we assume will always be there disappear. The rash of venues closing is a prime example.

We wouldn’t expect to see museums shutting down but theatres and galleries? Who knows?  And as a lot of the culture at the moment is free to see; again, can we take that for granted going forward?

Liverpool museums see nearly four million visitors in record breaking year

Secondly, and this is a bit morbid to be honest but it has to be faced and no apologies for this, but maybe we shouldn’t assume we can ‘go another time’.  Because, who knows what time we have, what time we have left?

So, on that happy note and on a personal level, I’m making a sort of late New Years’ resolution to get out there, get into town and wander around. Catch up with what’s on offer and make the most of it.

There’s so much out there and this monthly Arts Diary is only scratching the surface. Here’s just some picks. Let’s not take things for granted anymore. – Rick Leach, Arts Editor

The Ark (Credit: Bluecoat Facebook page/Rob Battersby)

Grace Ndiritu
The Ark
Bluecoat until October 13

Following exhibitions in 2010 and 2017, Grace Ndiritu has returned to the Bluecoat with a new exhibition drawing on her 2017 research and live art project, The Ark: Center For Interdisciplinary Experimentation which took place at Les Laboratories Aubervilliers, Paris.

Ndiritu’s living experiment drew on the artist’s own experiences of living in New Age communities.

Scientists, artists, gardeners, economists, a chef and spiritual workers joined the artist for an intensive, intimate 9-day experience where they focused on radical new ways of thinking about art, science, spirituality and politics, in order to suggest possible solutions to the problems of the 21st century.

To encourage creativity, vulnerability and reflection, The Ark had no audience for the first six days but went public during the final weekend with performances, film screenings, a party and academic roundtable.

At Bluecoat, Ndiritu opens her research to the public, sharing archival materials generated from The Ark, including a publication made with the participants, alongside protest placards and animal costumes produced for a street parade.

Also sharing wider research into spiritual communities, farming, permaculture and ecology, she aims to start a dialogue, suggesting we look to broader perspectives in order to resolve contemporary global issues. 

Adam Smythe, Head of Programme at Bluecoat, says “The timing of these two exhibitions feels very appropriate, with stories regarding migration, climate change and our relationship with the environment very much in the news at the moment.

Whilst Shezad Dawood’s Leviathan explores where we are in terms of environmental and societal problems, Grace Ndiritu’s work The Ark invites us to offer potential solutions, and is hopeful that such problems can be overcome.

We are delighted to bring these two pertinent exhibitions to the North West and look forward to sharing them with our visitors.”

Saul Sunderland (Credit: Tate Liverpool Facebook page/ Craig Easton)

TATE Liverpool
Until August 25

What’s it like to be sixteen today?

This multimedia project brings together leading contemporary photographers with more than 170 young people from diverse communities across the country.

Together they have created a series of vox pops that explore the hopes and fears of today’s sixteen-year olds. These give prominence to voices rarely heard.

Tate Exchange is hosting Sixteen this summer with a curated selection of works from the series.

The space will be animated by a host of workshops and pop up events led by local young people and the photographers involved.

Each event will open up the discussion about what it means to be sixteen, inviting audiences of all ages to consider their memories of our aspirations for this pivotal age.

This project is led by photographer Craig Easton and in partnership with Open Eye Gallery. Tate Exchange is one of four venues hosting the project across the city-region this summer.

Modigliani Opera (Credit: Modligliani Opera Facebook page)

Modigliani Opera Exhibition
Liv Organic until September 30

A cutting-edge multi-media art show celebrating the work of one of the 20th century’s greatest painters has opened for the first time in the UK in Liverpool.

Running until September 30th, Modigliani Opera is an immersive multi-media show incorporating 360 degrees cinema, 4k video screens and virtual reality to explore the work and life of the Italian master, Amedeo Modigliani.

The Modigliani Opera exhibition is being hosted in a specially adapted gallery space at 26 Bold Street (in the basement of Liv Organic), located in the heart of Liverpool City Centre.

The internationally acclaimed show has recently toured major cities in Italy and is the centre piece of a programme of art events and exhibitions being promoted by the Fondazione Amedeo Modigliani in the city this summer.

Joint spokesperson for the exhibition Joel Jelen said: “The Fondazione aims to promote the work and celebrate the important influence of Modigliani, as well as support and promote the work of emerging contemporary painters internationally.”

Amedeo Modigliani was born into a Sephardic Jewish family in the northern Italian port city of Livorno in July 1884.

His life was blighted by a succession of serious illnesses including pleurisy, typhoid fever and tuberculosis.

He travelled extensively during his childhood and youth, with his art-loving mother taking him to visit the great cultural centres of Rome, Venice and Florence where his passion for painting was inspired and nurtured.

Moving to Paris in his early 20’s, he became part of the burgeoning Modernist movement forming close friendships with leading painters and writers including Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob and Jean Cocteau.

Modigliani developed a highly distinctive visual style with his portraits and nudes immediately recognizable with their elongated necks and angular features.

The painter achieved some critical recognition during his life, which ended tragically at the age of 35 when he died from tubercular meningitis.

However, his reputation as a great artistic innovator soared after his death. He became the epitome of the tragic artist, creating a posthumous legend almost as well-known as that of Vincent Van Gogh.

Fellow spokesperson Francesco Mellina adds: “The Liverpool programme also includes two contemporary art shows featuring painters from the UK and Europe at both the Bold Street gallery space and a major waterfront exhibition space opening in July.

The show’s promoters believe the exhibition will appeal beyond traditional art audiences with its immersive and interactive media helping to break down barriers and give people a richer and more accessible insight into the work of the modern master.”

Exit Music (For a Film): Getintothis’ monthly round up of the best cinema

Pain and Glory

Pain & Glory
Picturehouse at FACT
August 11 5.00pm

This is a chance to see an exclusive preview of acclaimed director Pedro Almodóvar’s new film at Picturehouse at FACT before it goes on general release.

In this deeply personal and tender new drama, a film director reflects on the choices he’s made in life as past and present come crashing down around him.

Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas, who deservedly won Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival for his performance), an ageing Madrid-based auteur, is retreating into himself, facing ill health, depression and the decline of his powers.

After a chance meeting reunites him with an actor from his past, a wild new chapter begins, sparking a series of reconciliations and reveries in which Salvador revisits old emotional wounds and tries to piece together the puzzle of his life and his art.

The Moon: Top 10 tracks about that rock in the sky

CAPCOM Go! (Credit:World Museaum Facebook page)

CAPCOM Go! Race to the Moon
Planetarium at World Museum
Daily 2.40pm

As we referred to in the introduction to this month’s Arts Diary, there is so much happening right under our noses in our city that it’s easy to both overlook things and take things for granted.

The Planetarium is a prime example.

It’s probably not far wrong to say that for lots of us, then the last time we went to this jewel in the city was on a school trip.

With all the interest in the anniversary of the Moon landing then maybe it’s time to escape out of the summer heat and/or downpours and pay it a visit.

CAPCOM Go! Race to the Moon is an immersive documentary that showcases what it took to put the first human on the Moon.

The film explains the considerable achievements of the Apollo programme and the many challenges NASA overcame.

It’s designed to inspire the explorers, designers, engineers, thinkers and dreamers of the future but for everyone else it’s another reason to marvel about what happened half a century ago.

Unity Theatre
Autumn Season

Opening Unity’s 2019 Autumn season is Lost Boys on September 4 to 11 from National Youth Theatre; a timely take on life in northern towns from nationally-acclaimed Formby playwright Luke Barnes.

There’s a healthy dose of provocation, laughter and witty comment on disability with Still No Idea from Bunny on September 13 and 14.

Still No Idea (Credit: Camilla Greenwell)

On the back of that is a fantastical, physical tale – A Long Way Home on 26 September 26; made by Ben Phillips in collaboration with John Wright, a founder member of the acclaimed companies Told By and Idiot and Trestle.

On September 28 Unity will be showcasing gorgeous puppetry and the history of women’s suffrage with Horse and Bamboo’s Suffrajitsu, based on the real-life story of the group, who used Jiu Jitsu to protect themselves from arrest and police brutality.

Moving on to October 4-6 there’ll be LEAP Dance Festival from Merseyside Dance Initiative (MDI), with Cupid’s Revenge from New Art Club, one of the UK’s best-loved and funniest dance theatre companies and Black Holes from Alexandrina Hemsley and Seke Chimutengwende. Lovers of new dance can indulge at the LEAP Scratch Night before the latter.

Box of Tricks Theatre return on October 9-12 after the runaway success of SparkPlug with Under Three Moons, a generation-spanning play about how men relate to each other today.

October 15 sees the first of Unity’s Big Imaginations Children’s Festival shows; Stitch Brothers, Patchwork Dreams from Matthew Linley Creative Projects. It promises to be a magical fusion of hip-hop, music, live drawing and animation unites musician and composer Arun Ghosh, artist Fabric Lenny and composer, beatboxer and sound artist Jason Singh.

Second up in the festival is visual feast Baba Yaga on October 25 from Windmill Theatre and Imaginate Productions; winner of Best Design in the 2019 Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland. Direct from critically acclaimed seasons at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival and Adelaide Festival, it’s  new take on an old Russian folktale.

Wrapping up Big Imaginations is mini from Italian theatre-makers Compagnia TPO; a riot of colour and magical real-time projections set up to provide an unforgettable theatre experience for pre-school children on October 30.

An undoubtable highlight for Unity this October is LUNG’s Trojan Horse on October 18 &19, a multi-award-winning examination of the accusation of ‘hardline’ Muslim teachers and governors of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. Trojan Horse  is a brave, terrifying account of a community ripped apart by racial division and ‘British values.’

Trojan Horse

Paines Plough come back to the Unity following the success of Pop Music last year and I Wanna Be Yours on October 25 is a tender, funny, lyrical play about finding love from London Poet Laureate Zia Ahmed.

The new Liverpool company Kitchen Sink Live are dedicated to making real authentic theatre with and for young people, and on October 29 they’ll be presenting their eagerly awaited new play REAL-EYES.

November sees the return of the peerless deaf & disability-focussed company Graeae to the Unity. They’re true trailblazers, and inimitable in the theatre industry with every show hotly anticipated, and this new production of Winsome Pinnock’s One Under on November 14 & 15 is no exception.

One Under

On Saturday 16 November, the Unity will welcome moving five-star performance event Truth to Power Café (London Artists Projects) that is making waves on its UK tour. The evening combines memoir, image, poetry, music; live and spontaneous testimony from participants in response to ‘who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’. Participants are cast in advance from the people of Liverpool.

And to wrap up 2019 with a first for the Unity they’ll be presenting a Christmas show for the under-fives. It’ll be an extra-special Christmastime treat in the form of Theatre-Rites’ magical Beasty Baby from December 10 to 28. It’s won five-star reviews for its inspired mix of puppetry and live music, taking a journey deep into the forest and on a wild adventure to bring up a mischievous and totally loveable child.

Alongside its artistic programme, Unity will be presenting The Big Taboo. These are free events are designed to help audiences get more out of their experience, and include debates, Q&As, screenings, podcasts & more. Events and experiences will be programmed directly in response to the shows and artists.

Mothers Who Make also returns for the Autumn season; a grass roots, national initiative, dedicated to supporting mothers. The monthly sessions allow artists to connect, share ideas, and gain support, and are led by Tmesis Theatre’s Claire Bigley.

Gordon Millar, Unity Artistic Director and CEO says: “Last year I asked audiences what they wanted from their Unity experience. The response was clear – performances from renowned and emerging artists with content that asks questions and styles that challenge norms.

It was also apparent that artists from Liverpool’s communities needed to tell their stories. We have all of that and more this season. Celebrated companies Told by An Idiot, Graeae and New Art Club join artists from our city such as Kitchen Sink Live, Luke Barnes and Ben Phillips.

And we’re challenging the status quo with Still No Idea, Trojan Horse, Homotopia and Truth to Power Café. I hope you find our Autumn season entertaining, captivating and fulfilling.

As always, Unity invites you to get curious, see a performance, and get involved and be inspired”.

Last chance to see and still showing:

Museum of Liverpool
John and Yoko exhibition until November 3

Since opening in May 2018, Double Fantasy has become one of the Museum of Liverpool’s most popular exhibitions, attracting more than 300,000 visitors. Part of John and Yoko’s ongoing Imagine Peace campaign, the exhibition shows how the couple used their fame and influence to campaign for peace and human rights across the world, transforming not only their own lives, but art, music and activism forever.

War Horse
Liverpool Empire until August 17

Following 8 record-breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world to over 7 million people, the National Theatre’s acclaimed play War Horse is now touring the UK and is running at Liverpool Empire until August 17.

Pinks by Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style
Walker Art Gallery until August 26

The Walker Art Gallery has been holding a major exhibition exploring the life and work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) and his contemporaries, presenting many objects which have never before been displayed outside of Scotland. The Walker is the only English gallery to host the exhibition.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Liverpool World Museum until September 1

Featuring 100 awe-inspiring images from The Royal Observatory Greenwich’s hugely popular Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 competition, the exhibition celebrates the very best in astrophotography and will be displayed at World Museum to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20 1969.

Kaith Haring Ignorance=Fear, 1989

Keith Haring
TATE Liverpool until November 10

In the first UK retrospective of the groundbreaking artist and activist’s work TATE Liverpool are showing 85 pieces of Keith Harings art including pai ntings, sculptures and drawings.

Haring’s influence 30 years after his death continues to reverberate through popular culture and more. This is a chance to see something truly inspirational.




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