Constellations in the heart of Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle celebrates its fourth birthday this weekend, Getintothis’ Peter Guy reflects on a group of independent creatives who did it their way.
I can remember the first time I really gotten to know Rebecca Wild.
It was about ten minutes ’til showtime at the fifth GIT Award, our first at Constellations. And, as everyone who has ever run a DIY music event knows, things can be a little last minute, tensions run a little high, organisation can go a little out the window and things can be done ‘a little on the fly’.
It was this kind of occasion.
And Rebecca, (or Becky to her pals), wasn’t messing about – because Becky
rarely never messes about. A rather terse conversation concerning projectors with our lighting director almost led to a full scale WWF Royal Rumble yet ended up with myself and Becky in a stock cupboard cracking open a couple of Heinekens and all was resolved in no time. We hugged it out, the night was a roaring success and Becky was right all along.
It was in that short time I learned more about Becky’s passion, determination and attitude than I’d ever need to.
And it’s these qualities which have led to Constellations – a venue which this weekend celebrates it’s fourth birthday – being such a staple in the Merseyside arts, music and culture programme.
For alongside Nicholas Baskerville and their team, they’ve grown an independent project into something which hasn’t just rejuvenated an area on the fringe of Liverpool – but has made it one of the most bristlingly exciting places in the UK.
The reasons are frankly obvious and many. It’s urban garden is a treat – even in winter. It’s indoor cafe is a great place to hang out, do business, enjoy quality ales and see exhibitions by regional artists and designers. The main room is simple, yet multi-functional and has good lighting and sound facilities.
But best of all, is Constellations‘ want to host imaginative and varied events and very often a programme offered unlike anywhere in the city.
Positive Vibrations – the reggae happening which won best UK small festival – wouldn’t have worked anywhere but in Constellations‘ outside Garden and indoor space. With the combination of urban meets wooden surrounds and sparsely decorated floral arrangements and rustic artwork, the place looks great set to the sounds of Africa and beyond.
The same can be applied to the myriad of roots, funk, reggae and hip hop events held at Constellations with Liverpool MCs NuTribe mixing it with legends Gangstarr and KRS-One – the latter holding a week long residency giving talks to rising wannabe MCs.
Constellations was also first to hold the Soul Festival – a niche platform for Liverpool musicians – yet the event was a success upgrading in capacity to the Arts Club the year after.
Of course, rock and roll is their bread and butter, but Constellations rarely concern themselves with too much of that, knowing the inner city deals with this so instead they trade in summer dance events again utilising the Garden to good effect holding day-time raves which attract a young, friendly crowd. This year’s On The Corner a fine example of the team giving newcomers a chance to shine and have a go at staging something different.
It has also become a cornerstone in recent times for Liverpool Disco Festival, Baltic Weekender and hosting a series of offbeat one-offs by the Wild Writers which saw them turn the space into odes to Jurassic Park and the Simpsons.
The list goes on, there’s far too many events and one-offs to list (you can see some highlights in our gallery below) – but it’s of little surprise that it will form one of the main hubs for this year’s Liverpool Sound City in May. The main room will host rising new talent while the outdoors will feature Tim Burgess of the Charlatans‘ Tim Peaks blending his O Genesis label picks and Merseyside artists including The Fernweh and Edgar Jones.
Ever ambitious, relentlessly progressive, they’ve recently taken over the ambitious Hinterlands project – a vast architectural structure which will provide more commercial business and conferences helping to prop up their more creative endeavours elsewhere. It will be a success.
While Jayne Casey and the Baltic Creative collective have ensured the Baltic Triangle goes from strength to major strength, it’s Constellations which has become the area’s undoubted centre piece – and for that, we’ll raise a glass to many more birthday cheers.
- Constellations fourth birthday takes place Friday April 20 until Sunday April 22.Full details.