Liverpool Arts Diary: Comic Con, La Dolce Vita, street poetry – March 2020


Liverpool Arts Diary March 2020

A macabre opera, two major exhibitions, comedy and more as we highlight the best arts events on offer this month.

This winter has been a tad grim to say the least.

Brexit, an election like no other, major parts of the country flooded and now this corona virus.

And that’s before we get onto last weekend’s news about a Home Secretary who’s – surprise, surprise – been (allegedly) bullying and harassing her own staff to a point beyond comprehension.

Grim times indeed.

And we’re sure you have your own long list of examples.

But things are not irredeemably as bad as they may seem at first glance.

Despite whatever is going on, there is still and there always is, a ray of sunshine to brighten up your life.

We’re talking about a vibrant arts scene right across Liverpool and the wider world.

We’ve dipped our toes in the water for March and are bringing you the best films, concerts, exhibitions and events over the next month.

We’ve picked one of the greatest films ever made, an opera with a breathtaking tale and art to challenge and make you think.

And when you think about it, this is the way it’s always been and always going to be. Nothing dampens that flame, that creativity and the need to share. That desire to communicate and to tell stories irrespective of whatever else is happening.

Onwards and upwards!

Rick Leach
Arts Editor

Best 20 culture events for 2020: the top arts events, exhibitions, theatre, festivals of the year

Paulina Korobkiewicz’s Wall Unit (Credit: Open Eye Facebook page)

Paulina Korobkiewicz
Open Source #16
Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
March 1 – March 31

Open Eye presents Paulina Korobkiewicz with her series Wall Unit.

The aesthetics of the Polish People’s Republic (1950s – late 80s) was shaped by the existence of the Iron Curtain – the political and cultural boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas.

It resulted in a shortage of common goods, including furniture. The series uses the material remains of the system to investigate how geopolitics influenced contemporary taste and aesthetics in Poland and neighbouring Lithuania.

The Never Ending Story

The Neverending Story followed by In Conversation: Noah Hathaway
Creative Edge Lecture Theatre, Edge Hill University

March 5 6.00pm

Alongside a free screening of the classic film, Edge Hill University has an appearance of the child star of The Neverending Story, Noah Hathaway, in conversation with Getintothis’ Roy Bayfield.

Hathaway will be discussing his career as an actor, the paths that his career has taken and how it was growing up as a child in Hollywood.

Comic Con

Liverpool Comic Con 2020
Exhibition Centre, Liverpool Waterfront
March 6 – 8

Much loved by Getintothis, Comic Con is back again for another year.

There will be high profile guests including Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2), David Harbour (Stranger Things), Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) and many, many more – too numerous to mention here.

There’ll be lots of full-sized props and the whole weekend promises to be a fun-filled, action-packed adventure for all sci-fi lovers, cosplayers, anime devotees and comic book aficionados.

Claire Collison

Claire Collison: Liverpool’s One Tit Wonder
Metal Liverpool
Various sites until March 8

Liverpool’s streets will be home to a series of posters depicting a breast cancer survivor’s unreconstructed body this month ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8 2020).

The 50 posters, which will be dotted around Liverpool City Centre and the Edge Hill district, are by artist Claire Collison, and have been designed to help provide women facing the tough decision about whether or not to have reconstructive surgery with choices.

Collison has used her own body in her arts practice for 30 years, but after her mastectomy in 2014, she began to make work about the lack visibility in society of what she describes as the “One Tit Club” – a phrase that appears in the posters, alongside other deliberately pro-vocative words from Claire’s performance ‘JUGS’, ‘WONKY REVOLUTION’, and ‘ALL THE SINGLE-BREASTED LADIES’, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Beyonce hit song.

‘You’d never know that only 30% of women who have mastectomies actually get reconstruction,’ Claire says. ‘I wanted to raise awareness that there are a lot of women out there who look like me, and that we’ve nothing to be ashamed of.’

Roddy Doyle
Liverpool Playhouse
March 10 7.30pm

For one night only, come and celebrate one of Ireland’s best-loved storytellers with special guest interviewer Paddy Hooey.

With eleven novels, two collections of stories, a memoir of his parents, eight children’s books and a number of plays and screenplays, Conversations with Roddy Doyle is a unique and exciting opportunity to hear the legendary author Roddy Doyle open up on his prolific career, reading from fan favourites including The Commitments and his Booker Prize winning novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.

Famous for his unique use of dialogue and rich humour, for many Doyle’s work perfectly captures the experiences of everyday Irish life – and he’s even managed to persuade quite a few people that Mustang Sally is a traditional Irish song!


Jonathan Baldock  Installation ICredit: Stephen Friedman Gallery London: Photo: Luke Walker)

Jonathan Baldock: Facecrime
Bluecoat, Liverpool
March 13 – June 21

Jonathan Baldock, Freelands Foundation artist in residence at Bluecoat January 2018 is back for his solo exhibition, Facecrime.

At the centre of the exhibition is a landscape of ceramic columns, some over four metres high.

Originally inspired by cuneiform-inscribed tablets – an early system of writing – dating from 2500BC, the exhibition explores the potential of clay to create communication tools that still connect with us today.

Featuring expressive faces and stamped emoji symbols, the columns emit audible groans, whistles and chuckles through concealed speakers. The columns are also adorned with weaving, basketry and glass drawn from different eras of labour, folklore and storytelling.

The exhibition title is inspired by Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984 – a facecrime being an ‘unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself’ suggesting that there was something to hide. Throughout the exhibition, rectangular ceramic tablets feature expressive faces built from the most basic elements.

Marie-Anne McQuay, Head of Programme at Bluecoat, said: “We are delighted to welcome Jonathan Baldock back to Bluecoat to present this exciting work, which builds upon the foundations of his previous residency with us in 2018.

The different elements of Facecrime will combine to create a playful and at times surprising installation for our visitors, which simultaneously explores deeper questions of how we communicate and connect with each other.” 

Frances Disley’s Activation 1/ Fallen Angels Dance (Credit: Livia Lizar)

Frances Disley: Pattern Buffer
Bluecoat, Liverpool
March 13 – June 21

Pattern Buffer is a solo show by Liverpool-based Frances Disley.

Disley is interested in the things we do to feel better about ourselves, while shunning the elitism often found within the self-care industry, with its obsessions with conventional beauty, ideal body mass and self-regard.

Pattern Buffer explores the potential of the gallery space to create a restorative environment.

As with many of her previous installations, Disley layers a wide range of multi-sensory elements to construct a setting that invites gallery visitors to make use of her artworks, to pause and rest in comfort in the space, or share a hobby.

The exhibition features an alternative mindfulness guide; hand painted relaxation quilt; a specially crafted dominoes table; hairdressing as video art, and plants which survive from moisture in the air.

The grid of the Holodeck, a device from Star Trek (The Next Generation) will cover the gallery floor and walls, inviting participants to engage with different fantasy environments.

The artist has also devised an accompanying events programme, including a number of workshops aimed at families.

Marie-Anne McQuay, Head of Programme at Bluecoat, said: “Supporting and developing Liverpool artists is one of Bluecoat’s core ambitions, and we are thrilled to be able to present this exhibition by Frances Disley as part of that commitment. 

Pattern Buffer comes to Bluecoat at a really exciting point in the artist’s career, and follows recent exhibitions at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester and Humber Street Gallery in Hull.

The exhibition will invite visitors to experience our galleries in a new way, creating a welcoming environment that prioritises ideas of comfort and well-being.”

Both Facecrime and Pattern Buffer will launch at the Bluecoat on March 12 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

This is a chance to hear from both artists and to explore the two exhibitions in full for the first time

The Gallery closes and Baltic Triangle loses a key space for adventurous art

Alexei Sayle

Alexei Sayle
Epstein Theatre
March 12-14

Following huge success with three series of his incredibly popular recent Radio 4 show Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Bar, alternative comedy legend Alexei Sayle will be returning to stages across the UK with his first stand-up tour in seven years.

Sayle’s brand-new show will span the UK, including a three-night homecoming residency at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre (March 12-14) and two nights at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre (6-7 April).

Of his return to the stage, Alexei said: ‘This tour won’t be another arsehole comic talking about his girlfriend or the funny things his kids do or the funny things cats do or how he doesn’t understand the internet or bleeding Brexit… This is ALEXEI FUCKING SAYLE you’ll be seeing.’

Met Opera Encore: Der Fliegende Hollander

Die Flienglende Hollander
Met Opera Encore
Picturehouse at FACT
March 17 2.00pm

The Flying Dutchman is condemned to sail the seas on his ghostly ship for ever. Only once every seven years can he come ashore to seek redemption in the form of an eternally faithful woman.

Wagner was inspired to write this macabre, uncanny opera after enduring a terrible storm while crossing the North Sea in 1838.

With its depiction of the Dutchman’s tormented soul and the satanic turbulence of the ocean, the score is an extraordinary combination of operatic lyricism, dramatic insight and magnificent effects. It clearly foreshadows the composer’s later technique.

François Girard, whose mesmerising staging of Parsifal recently wowed Met audiences, directs the composer’s eerie early masterwork.

Bryn Terfel stars as the Dutchman and Anja Kampe, in her Met debut, is the devoted Senta.

Fellini’s La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita
Picturehouse at FACT
March 22 5.00pm

Fellini’s towering achievement of 1960s cinema is a vast widescreen fresco of the glitterati of Rome in the post-war economic boom.

The episodic narrative follows seven nights and seven dawns in the life of gossip journalist Marcello Mastroianni who hops from one bed to another, pursues Anita Ekberg’s surreally pneumatic film star, reports on bogus miracles, and copes with a visit from his father and a friend’s suicide.

He is repelled, fascinated and seduced by the ‘sweet life’ of the title while nursing guilty aspirations for something higher.

The film caused a sensation on its initial release, angering censors and polarising opinion among critics and audiences, but is now rightly considered a masterpiece that’s had a profound influence on popular culture.

It was La Dolce Vita, for instance, that coined the term ‘paparazzo’, which came to describe a certain type of relentless celebrity photographer.

Luchino Visconti – five of the best from the director of Death In Venice

Vasily Petrenko (Credit: Liverpool Philharmonic Facebook page)

Mahler Symphony No.3 
Vasily Petrenko conductor
Jennifer Johnston
Sopranos and Altos of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir
Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir

Liverpool Philharmonic
March 21 7.30pm

Gustav Mahler always thought big, but even by his standards, his Third Symphony is extraordinary.

One of the biggest symphonies ever written, it’s a concert in its own right, teeming with distant trumpets, children’s songs, glittering marches and lofty mountaintop meditations.

Mahler throws them all into the mix before ending with a ravishing hymn to love.

It’s less a symphony, more an all-embracing emotional odyssey.

Vasily Petrenko is conducting Artist in Residence Jennifer Johnston, and on the back of remarkable  performances of Mahler’s 1st and 2nd Symphonies, this should be something exhilarating.

RLPO Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko talks Mahler and the eternal nature of music

Mulligan Stew

Mulligan Stew Quartet
Chapel Street Gallery, Ormskirk
March 25 8.00pm

The Gerry Mulligan Quartet were together for just one year (1952-1953), but their influence has had lasting effect on the jazz scene.

Along with trumpet legend and movie star Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan’s quartet defined – if not invented – ‘West Coast’ jazz, a genre known for its cool and laid-back style.

In their short time, the piano-less quartet recorded 42 tracks; Mulligan Stew will pay tribute to the original quartet and perform some of their most striking pieces.

The sublime contrapuntal melodies in Gerry Mulligan’s compositions come across as a deep, intuitive conversation between the two lead musicians with an almost psychic rapport.

Mulligan once remarked that “I had never experienced anything like that before and not really since.”

Performing for one night only, the talented musicians of Mulligan Stew will captivate audiences with the easy-going and enigmatic sounds of the West Coast, from 1950s California.

Street Hunt

Street Hunt
Heart of Glass, St Helens
April 4 onwards

Street Hunt is a kind of visual crossword puzzle, a treasure hunt where the riches are road names, a story emerging from the page and a chance to win up to £6,000.

A poem has been written with words from St Helens road names.

Joshua Sofaer is the artist behind Street Hunt.

He makes art events, performances and exhibitions that often involve the participation of members of the public. He is interested in the way the ordinary and the overlooked can be visually spectacular. He believes that art can allow people to see the world as a place of potentiality and to become more active citizens.

A book of photographs shows the street signs and their surroundings but with the names removed. You have to work out what the streets are using the emerging story of the poem to help you.

The first person to submit a correctly completed book with all the right answers wins. The more people that play the game and join Street Hunt, the bigger the prize. There’s a guaranteed minimum prize of £1,000 and a maximum of £6,000 if all the books are sold.

Street Hunt is about St Helens and the wonders of its street names.

It is about getting out into the streets, travelling around the borough and talking to people.

Only 1,000 copies of the Street Hunt book will be released and is available for pre-order from March 4.