Culture Diary w/c 17-05-21


Welcome to the first edition of Culture Diary in quite some time – our roundup of the week’s arts, design, film and music events that have caught our eye. It was a genuine pleasure to write and research these listings with anticipation and enthusiasm for what would be opening, or reopening today and through the course of the week.

If you’re itching to hit the galleries, museums & cinema, we’ve got you covered. We will, of course, continue to also include a selection of online options. Stay safe everyone!

Liverpool Biennial @ venues across the city from 19 May – FREE

While the outdoors phase kicked off a number of weeks back, it’s finally time to get at the ‘indoor’ segment of the Biennial. That means approximately fifty artists addressing, in some shape or form, this year’s theme of The Stomach and the Port. Across nine venues, from the traditional – Tate, Bluecoat, FACT, Open Eye Gallery – to the less so (including Lewis’, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Building and the Cotton Exchange), expect a wealth of contemporary art. We’ll be making a beeline for Black Obsidian Sound System (short-listed for this year’s Turner Prize) at FACT; paintings by surrealist Ithell Colquhoun (in conversation with Linder at Tate Liverpool); the “complex emotional landscapes” of Jadé Fadojutimi (Bluecoat); and Zineb Sedira’s largescale photographs, which engage with the history of slavery and forced migration, at Open Eye Gallery. Don’t forget the range of digital commissions available to view online.

Further Reading: Liverpool Biennial 2021 Public Realm – Reviewed

Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty from today @ the Barbican, London – £18

Founder of Art Brut (raw art), Jean Dubuffet was long overdue a retrospective. Indeed, the aptly titled Brutal Beauty exhibition at the Barbican is Frenchman Dubuffet’s first major UK survey for more than fifty years. “Art should always make you laugh a little and fear a little. Anything but bore,” he said. Across four decades (taking in portraiture, sculpture and assemblage), this exhibition showcases an artist who, goes the blurb, “tried to capture the poetry of everyday life in a gritty, more authentic way”. This approach resulted in his creating colourful, sometimes comical works, that look as fresh and dynamic today as they ever did.

Vicissitudes (Les Vicissitudes) January 1977. Photograph: Dubuffet, Jean/© 2021 ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London © Tate

First Light @ Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces, Warrington from 22 May – FREE

This exhibition, series of talks and publication recognises and celebrates last year’s graduates from across the north of England, who – robbed of a degree show – had to produce work amid profoundly difficult circumstances. While the talks have been ongoing throughout lockdown, this is the first opportunity to see new works by thirteen photographers, in real life.

Brutal @ Saul Hay Gallery, Manchester – FREE

Brutalism accounts on social media have an incredible following. Aside from the iconic feats of architecture, this is about something deeper than aesthetics. Emerging from the modernist movement, Brutalism was bound up with specific ideals: optimism, social values and cohesion. Its popularity today owes much to this hoped for but sadly unrealised future. Across painting and sculpture, Brutal includes a quintet of artists – Mandy Payne, William Braithwaite, Emma Bennett, Dan Broughton & Jen Orpin – whose work is rooted in the ongoing investigation of the built environment.

Read our interview with exhibiting artist, Mandy Payne

for the many not the few narrow equal margins 4.6mb- web

Morgan Quaintance: Missing Time online @ John Hansard Gallery – FREE

One of our favoured sources of high-quality online programming during lockdown, John Hansard Gallery’s latest featured work is a film by Morgan Quaintance. In Missing Time, the artist and writer employs archival materials to make a case for memory and the role it plays in defining our self-hood. Covering the Cold War, alien abduction, and decolonisation, it blurs fact, fiction and history to pose important questions about who we are – whether on a personal or collective level.

Read our review

Don McCullin @ Tate Liverpool from 18 May – £13

Over more than half a century, Don McCullin has produced difficult but indelible images that brought news of world events to the front page of western audiences’ newspapers and magazines. This retrospective exhibition at Tate Liverpool brings together over 200 of these photographs, ranging from international conflict zones to the post-industrial north of England. As he told us: “There’s no shortage of material for a photographer.” A vital, if at times painful, exhibition.

Further Reading: Don McCullin: The Sublime amid the Maelstrom; Bearing Witness: Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool – Reviewed

Early shift, West Hartlepool steelworks, County Durham 1963 © Don McCullin

John Moores Painting Prize @ the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool from 18 May – FREE

It’s hard to believe but, not so very long ago, it seemed serious questions were regularly being asked about painting’s relevance. As we’re finally able to book a date with the John Moores Painting Prize, it seems a frivolous, dubious line indeed. Painting, as it always has, retains the ability to say something about our world – even before we get into the realms of skill and craftsmanship. As if to prove this, we have a whole series of articles responding to specific works in this year’s exhibition; we can’t wait to see them for ourselves up close and personal. See the exhibition online.

AI: More than Human @ the World Museum, Liverpool from 18 May  £12/£11/£5

This exhibition has long been on our radar. Originally scheduled (if memory serves) to open at the start of this year, it has travelled from the Barbican in London. Promising robots (obvs), special commissions and some serious research, its timeline promises Shintoism, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, and the mid-century technological leaps that bring us up to the present day, to herald “a thrilling vision of the future”.


LightNight Liverpool @ venues across the city, Friday – FREE

LightNight feels a vital bit of programming, this year even more than usual. Offering various options for those looking to engage with the city once more in meaningful ways besides shopping, it ushers life back to venues we’ve so missed over these past months. From after hours tours of galleries to brass bands and storytelling, a crucial food hub (set in Baltic Market, above) for late night refuelling and the fab Stealing Sheep’s new composition, Song Machine (due to be performed live at the British Music Experience), there;s going to be something for everyone. And, if you’re not sure yet about being part of a crowd, there’s an online offer too featuring, among other things, Biennial artist Haroon Mirza, a drawing club, talks and discussion.

Penelope Isles @ Future Yard, Birkenhead, Wednesday – £12

Although the option of having a virtual gig from the comfort of the couch was something we enjoyed during lockdowns, it goes without saying that there’s nothing quite like live music. You can test this theory on Wednesday with the limited capacity, socially-distanced Penelope Isles gig. Drenched in indie-pop harmonies, Isles’ charming, self-consciously nostalgic sound has been compared to the likes of Grizzly Bear, Deerhunter and Granddady. Lovely stuff.

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Cinemas across the UK

More or less a year of almost exclusively streaming films new and old has served to demonstrate what we already knew – there’s nothing like the experience of going to the cinema. With some, like the BFI (who mark getting back into the cinema with Dream Palace, a series celebrating the big screen) and Manchester’s Home, opening their doors to eager punters tomorrow, others (including Liverpool’s Picturehouse at FACT) wait until Wednesday, so check your local for their plans. Films on our radar include: Pedro Almodóvar’s The Human Voice; Riz Ahmed-starring Sound of Metal; Undergods, Chino Moya’s dystopian debut feature; and, last but not least, Chloé Zhao’s Oscar-winning Nomadland. We’ll see you at the movies!

Further Reading: Sight & Sound’s Dream Palace

Mike Pinnington

Images/media from top: ‘Open’ Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash; Vicissitudes (Les Vicissitudes) January 1977. Photograph: Dubuffet, Jean/© 2021 ADAGP, Paris/DACS, London © Tate; For The Many Not The Few, Mandy Payne; Early shift, West Hartlepool steelworks, County Durham 1963 © Don McCullin; Baltic Market; empty cinema seats by Felix Mooneeram on Unsplash

Posted on 17/05/2021 by thedoublenegative