Liverpool Arts Diary: FACT, Homotopia, WOWfest and more – May/June 2020


From the dawn chorus to psychedelic capitalism via Jeremy Corbyn this month’s Arts Diary is surprisingly packed Getintothis’ Roy Bayfield discovers.

The next few weeks and months might just be the peak of online arts activity.

We’re past the initial phase of building closures, cancellations, postponements and panicky guesswork.

And we haven’t yet reached the next phase, when reopening of galleries, museums and arts centres will begin to happen, presumably offering socially-distanced events and exhibitions.

So, for now, online is where it’s happening.

We are in a lengthy meantime when unprecedented levels of arts are available to us via devices with screens. And we might as well make the most of it.

Stuff is being created, insights provided, connections made.

Let’s avoid calling it ‘digital content’, which sounds like a sort of virtual filler material being poured into a space, just because spaces need to be filled.

Let’s just call it art – images, words, movement, sound – creations that can move us, help us understand the world we’re in, connect us to each other, provoke and entertain.

This month we’re seeing new art that responds to and looks beyond the pandemic, including commissions from the region’s arts venues.

There is also a wealth of material giving insight into how artwork is created, for instance through podcasts and videos.

In a way we can be better connected to our arts organisations than we were in pre-viral days.

So there’s plenty to be tapped into. Here’s an overview:

Yas Necati

Homotopia: Queer Art Always 

Homotopia have commissioned 13 new artworks by LGBTQIA artists and creatives as part of a new project Queer Art Always.

The new commissions include “socially distanced cabaret, an online art social for young people, afrocentric fetish fashion and an interactive dance project”, appearing online from now until July 23.

Online now on the Homotopia YouTube channel we have two poems by spoken-word artist and drag performer Yas Necati, delving into themes of gender identity, ethnicity, family and hope.



Further artists involved include Leyla Reynolds, Joseph Cotgrave, Katie Walters & Ace Ambrose, Filla Crack, Naomi Westerman, Leo j Skilbeck, Harry Clayton-Wright, Kenneth Morris, Youcef Hadjazi and Queer Youth Art Collective.

Amina Atiq

Metal: Future Network Shorts
Launches Thursday May 28

Metal, the arts organisation with bases in Edge Hill station, Southend and Peterborough, are launching Future Networks Shorts, online events taking place on the last Thursday of each month.

At each event, 6 artists from across the UK will each host a 10 minute sharing of work, performance, conversations or experimentation.

The first session on May 28 includes Amina Atiq, who will be sharing her thoughts and ideas under lockdown as she continues to develop her play, Broken Biscuits – a one woman show, inviting the audience to a Yemeni-British household as she unfolds what it means to belong on the streets of Liverpool.

George Maund, founding member of Ex Easter island Head, will present Psychedelic Capitalism 102: H y p e r infantilization an experimental lecture inspired by “and kind of about” TED talks, Silicon Valley microdosing, and ‘onesie’ culture.

Information including set times will be shared on Metal’s socials @MetalCultureUK.

Stage Door: amateur theatre is not just amateur hour

Kiara Mohamed: Home 

Kiara Mohamed‘s poignant and provocative film Home was recently premiered by Bluecoat.

In her beautiful film which was shot using a drone flown above Toxteth, the Liverpool-based artist reflects on notions of home, vulnerability and care for others during the pandemic.

Discovery and reflection: A female perspective on the lockdown



Writing on the Wall: WOWFest: Lockdown
Until May 31

This year’s Writing on the Wall festival has proceeded with its established May slot, undaunted by the virus.

Running until May 31, still to come is a range of events streaming on Facebook including:

An Evening with Rosie Jones
6pm May 20

Keynote speech by comedian and writer on Netflix show Sex Education Rosie Jones who will talks about her challenges, experiences and her journey working in the TV comedy industry.

Resist: Stories of Uprising
6pm May 21

Readings from a new collection of fiction and essays about British protest in which “writers fight back with well-researched, historically accurate fiction.” Featuring stories on Liverpool Docker’s Strike, Notting Hill Riots and Grenfell Tower fire from Lucas Stewart, Karline Smith and Julia Bell.

Stuart MaconieThe Nanny State Made Me: A Story of Britain and How to Save it
6pm May 2

BBC 6 Music broadcaster Stuart Maconie tells the story of Britain’s Welfare State through his own history of growing up as a northern working-class boy. What was so bad, he asks, about properly funded hospitals, decent working conditions and affordable houses?

Questioning The Status Quo: Francesca and Raoul Martinez In Conversation
6pm May 29

Sibling writers Francesca Martinez, comedian and actor (Extras, Russell Howard’s Good News), author of What The **** Is Normal? and philosopher, artist and filmmaker Raoul Martinez shed much needed light on the domino effect Covid-19 is having on the various systems we live and work within.

Jeremy Corbyn – A Call To The Arts
6pm May 31

Keynote speech by the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “a shout out and rallying cry to people everywhere, artists, creatives, local communities, celebrating and arguing for the value of arts and culture now and in the future.”

Lockdown with Levi
7.30pm May 31

Performance by “crucial, rhythmic, poetic, consciousness raiser and urban griot” Levi Tafari.

Many more events for all ages are listed on the WoWFest website and socials.

Natural and Unnatural Landscapes (image source: FACT Facebook)

FACT Liverpool: Natural and Unnatural Landscapes 

FACT’s Living Planet project, an online programme exploring human relationship with the natural world, continues to unfold.

For International Dawn Chorus Day ecological field recordist and musician Geoff Sample and Daniel Thorne, saxophonist, composer and founder of the Immix Ensemble, were invited to create a “sonic reimagining of the dawn chorus.”

The 23-minute piece comprises Thorne’s responses to Sample‘s field recordings of birds in a range of landscapes “from woodlands to wetlands, to parks and cities – echoing the call and response of the morning symphonies we hear every day.”

The internet isn’t created equal

HoGcast from Heart of Glass

Heart of Glass: HoGcast – Conversations over a Brew 

The St Helens-based arts organisation Heart of Glass has launched a podcast as a way of connecting with audiences.

The first 20 minute episode takes art and mental health as its theme, in a conversation between artist/activist the vacuum cleaner (James Leadbitter) and mental health nurse Fox Irving.

ICE Lonely Arts Club

Edge Hill University ICE: Lonely Arts Club 

The Institute for Creative Enterprise at Edge Hill University is well into season two of its Lonely Arts Club podcasts.

The series so far has included The Farm filmmaker and bassist Carl Hunter, legendary actor Rita Tushingham and the always-entertaining Mike McCartney.

Coming attractions include Willy Russell, Janice Long and Will Sergeant of Echo & The Bunnymen .

Open Rooms #4: Independent Publishing w/ Colin Wilkinson

Open Eye Gallery: Open Rooms

Open Eye Gallery’s online programme includes Open Rooms, a series of talks and workshops live-streamed on Twitch with accompanying discussion on Discord.

Live at 6pm on Thursday May 21 is Open Rooms #4: Independent Publishing featuring Colin Wilkinson, founder of Bluecoat Press and Sorcha Boyle in conversation about “cultivating a unique sense of identity and dedicated audience in publishing, as well as overcoming some of the challenges faced by independent publishers today.”

dot-art membership offer

dot-art: View from a Window

Creative members of the dot-art community are working on the group exhibition that will be the first show in the gallery when it reopens.

View From a Window is “an initiative set to inspire our members, existing and new, to create work during a time where creative output can feel strained…when this crisis is over, the exhibition will give us all the opportunity to reflect on our experiences, remember lessons learnt and appreciate our new-found freedom.”

Aiming to support artists in the current situation, dot-art are offering three free months to new members of their year-long artist’s membership scheme which offers “guidance promoting and selling your work or looking for broader commercial opportunities and projects.”

Young Storyhouse

Storyhouse Chester: Young Storyhouse Takeover
Saturday June 6

Storyhouse digital channels will be taken over by young (14-25) musicians, poets, comedians, dancers, artists and actors all day on June 6.

Following a worldwide call for submissions, Young Storyhouse and selected artists will do their thing across the venue’s Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for a day-long celebration of creativity.

Artistic Director Alex Clifton said: “We already knew that Young Storyhouse were a brilliantly clever and creative bunch, but their response to the current Covid-19 restrictions has been remarkable. We are thrilled that they have decided to take it online and use it as a positive opportunity to celebrate young creatives like themselves from across the world.”