Watch This Space

Bluecoat Arts Centre, School Lane
10th - 23rd December 2004 and 6th - 29th January 2005
Tues-Sat: 10.30-17.30, Sun: 11.00-16.00

Reviewed by Adam Ford

In just a few short weeks, work will begin on the semi-controversial redevelopment of the Bluecoat Arts Centre on School Lane. Organisers predict it will improve the city’s profile in time for the Capital of Culture celebrations, while detractors worry it will be a needless ‘modernisation’ of the distinctly old-fashioned but elegant buildings. Watch This Space is the Bluecoat’s final exhibition before the changes, but unfortunately it is a disappointing swansong. Featuring collaborations between artists and local community groups, it largely fails to grasp the onward creep of development projects going on all around the city and the privatisation of public space.

For 'Liverpool Experience', Andy Weston and a group from Halewood Resource Centre created a large square frieze and back-lit boxes reflected their ideas of their city and being a visitor to the city. 'The Journey' is a short film by Leo Fitzmaurice and groups from L8 Resource Centre and Fazakerley Croxteth Day Services. It shows people catching buses and stuff.

'Making Space' was created by Andrew Small together with three groups to examine shared green spaces in Liverpool. Abbeyview Community Association in Childwall recreate alpine gardens through sculpture and digital imagery. In video pieces a group of young men from the 506 Youth Project in Fazakerley play keepy-ups across the city, in locations not exactly suited to football. In a series of short interviews, Bluecoat garden users talk about the past, present and future of the popular space. But whatever happened to actually talking with people? Why does something have to be on a video or computer screen to be considered? While you watch the video, you could be actually in the garden. How many people didn’t know about the changes before they saw the video?

Since some bright spark decided that Liverpool people should read Holes by Louis Sachar in 2004, Louise Wood collaborated with groups from Crown Street Mental Health Resource Centre and Lower Lee School to produce work featuring lots of holes. How much that says about the book is up to anyone who has actually bothered to read it.

I think perhaps the best way to appreciate precious public space is to go and sit in the Bluecoat’s garden for one final time before the renovations. Though it will survive the modernisation, the only place you can sit quietly for free in the city centre will be out of bounds for a couple of years. I for one will miss its tranquillity.