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Liverpool Bluecoat exhibitions examine where life and art collide

Work by three artists is going on show in two new exhibitions opening concurrently at Liverpool’s Bluecoat.

The School Lane arts venue is hosting Welsh artists Sean Edwards and Sadia Pineda Hameed, along with an exhibition of canvasses by Liverpool-based painter Josie Jenkins.

Edwards’ Undo Things Done comes to Liverpool as part of a UK tour following its staging at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

The exhibition, which is evolving as it moves between touring venues, is described as a poetic inquiry into place, politics and class seen through the prism of Edwards’ own life and background.

It takes as its starting point the 40-year-old’s experience of growing up on a council estate in Cardiff in the 1980s, capturing and translating what he calls a condition of 'not expecting much' into images which will be familiar to a lot of other people.

The semi-autobiographical artwork unfolds behind a giant lattice screen echoing the confessional of Edwards’ Catholic upbringing and includes repeated images of chewed fingernails – a trait he inherited from his mother, Welsh quilts suspended from the ceiling, and a re-edited version of his radio play Refrain.

In Parallel with the Past (above) is a repeated barcode of images including pictures of Edward as a baby, newspaper pages and slivers of his dad’s betting slips. It was previously shown as a rectangular work but here in Liverpool it runs like a long thin frieze along two walls.

Meanwhile a book of black and white photographs which visitors at previous iterations of the show were able to pick up and handle has here been torn apart and the images scattered like monochrome confetti across the gallery floor.

A separate complementary silent film installation, Maelfa (2011), in gallery three is set in the self-contained housing estate where Edwards grew up on the outskirts of Cardiff.

It was Edwards who invited London-born, Cardiff-based artist, writer and curator Sadia Pineda Hameed to make a solo show to sit alongside his own.

The result is The Song of My Life, a new film installation which explores the bonds – spoken and unspoken – that memories and experiences forge between family members, and the difficulty of telling stories about familial trauma.

The film plays with the idea of karaoke-style videos where the words appear on screen and change colour as they are sung, or in this case spoken.

Josie Jenkins' After Turner With Lego (2020)

Meanwhile the Bluecoat is also hosting Josie Jenkins Assembled Worlds, an exhibition of five large paintings completed over the past decade but which share a number of themes and motifs including the idea of interior and exterior, patterning, and playing with the scale of mundane items like building blocks and paper clips to create strange imagined worlds.

The most recent work, After Turner with Lego, was painted at home during the first lockdown in spring 2020 and mixes Lego pieces with the big skies of a landscape inspired by the famous 19th Century English artist.

Curator Adam Lewis-Smythe says: “Josie Jenkins also puts on exhibitions of other people’s work. We’ve been talking to her for a while about working with other artists, so it’s really nice to work with her and give her her own show.”

Undo Things Done and The Song of My Life are on show at the Bluecoat from December 5 to February 21.

Josie Jenkins Assembled Worlds is on show from December 5 to January 10.


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