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Independents Biennial calls for celebration of region’s artistic talent

Independents Biennial returns in March and is calling for a celebration of Liverpool City Region’s artistic and creative talent.

The festival, which runs alongside Liverpool Biennial, exists to celebrate the region’s own creative life and cast a fresh perspective on how people in Merseyside see, make and use art.

In its 22nd year, the festival’s plans have been changed by Covid-19 and the UK lockdown, which is likely to see many public venues closed in March and April. However, the festival is committed to continuing to provide a platform for, and a celebration, of the artists it has already commissioned, the partner organisations it is working with and the creative communities it represents.

While the efforts of arts organisations around the country are shifting their plans to suit lockdown, the Independents Biennial team wanted to ensure the artists represented within the programme were given the chance to plan effectively, create confident new work, and understand restrictions in advance, so Independents Biennial will focus on using as many platforms as possible across its hybrid programme to provide a greater voice and profile to its artists, including;

  • A printed festival launching in March, filled with new work, provocations and summaries of festival commissions will play a huge role in enabling physical engagement where it is otherwise impossible. The newspaper will be available from various locations remaining open during lockdown including supermarkets and independent stores.
  • Blogs, new writing, and ongoing documentation of residencies (some in person, some remote) will roll out between 20 March – 6 June online, supported by four new temporary paid artist positions within the festival programme. The new Artist Hosts will be in residence along with the 18 artists selected in 2020, while supporting and collaborating with the other artists along the way.
  • Social Media Takeovers by the commissioned artists and projects being developed for Independents Biennial. This will allow the artists to talk to audiences about the ideas and inspiration behind their works and to provide a chance to explore the life and work of artists within Liverpool City Region.
  • The launch and development of two exciting arts projects, both conceived during 2020 and providing two different insights into how both life and art have shifted during the pandemic. Featuring new work by artists Mark Hobbs and Alan Dunn.
  • Surveys and seminars coordinated by Artist Union England, providing information and advice to artists living and working in the city region on their rights as freelancers, sole traders, and individuals working to commissions and within larger organisations.
  • Publish a report into Liverpool City Region’s Artist Studios, including the challenges they have faced in 2020, the need for support from the artist industry of the region and why artist studios need to be preserved to maintain grassroots creative communities. *After the establishment of Liverpool’s Artist Studio Network in 2020, by Art in Liverpool CIC, offering a glimpse of the work the studios do and the artists they support, providing an insight into the role of artist studios within the city region’s creative life.

Patrick Kirk-Smith is Festival Director:
“Independents Biennial exists to shout about and celebrate the artists that make up Liverpool City Region’s grassroots creative community. The sad fact is these are some of the hardest hit among the creatives living and working within Merseyside. Independent artists rarely get the opportunity to profile their work, discuss the ideas behind it and engage with their audiences in a meaningful way. An artists’ fame and profile shouldn’t impact on their ability to share the inspiration behind their work and discuss what motivates them. We want this year’s festival to be a chance for everyone to see the creative talent on their doorstep and to understand why it’s so important to preserve and support it”.

In partnership with Metal Liverpool, Independents Biennial is working with Pierce Starre, Sufea Noor, Jay Hampton and Sorrell Kerrison. The four artists have access to free studio space at Metal for several months leading up to the live programme, and we will be commissioning their work for the final programme.

In partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Sam Venables, Feiyi Wen and Monste Mosquera were selected for a digital window display. Thanks to the additional funding from Arts Council England, they will now be working in residence during the programme, alongside a team of artist hosts (application details here).

Already commissioned artists in St Helens, thanks to an ongoing partnership with the council’s Arts in Libraries service, will be represented in new ways through the programme space following project development with each of the artists. These artists include Emmer Winder, Fiona Sterling, Grace Collins, Ian Brownbill, Kevin Crooks and Sarah Gilman.

We’re also supporting new work produced by artists and collectives from around the North West, including, ROOT-ed, Mark Simmonds, Rule of Threes, Mark Hobbs, Avoid Collective and Alan Dunn’s FOUR WORDS: WIRRAL.
As part of the 2021 edition, and building on work taking place through 2020, Independents Biennial will work with the newly established Artist Studio Network, connecting the independent studios based within the city region, helping to keep artists and institutions connected as their work develops.

Independents Biennial programme will be available at