Tag Archive | Open Culture

Shout out to you lovely vintage people!

Concert Room St Georges HallHot of the success of the brilliant Winter and Summer Arts Markets at St George’s Hall, the lovely folk over at Open Culture are introducing a new VINTAGE FAIR in the beautiful Grade I listed Concert Room as part of this year’s Winter Arts Festival.

The times and dates for the Arts Market are: –

10am – 5pm

7 & 8 December 2013

St George’s Hall, Liverpool

The Winter Arts Market has become a staple event in the Merseyside arts calendar, and 2013 sees the fifth anniversary of this special event. As a festive celebration of arts and crafts, the event is a creative showcase of the region’s most imaginative and skilled artists and designer-makers.

The 2012 event saw over 6,500 shoppers enjoying the grade I listed St George’s Hall transformed into a veritable treasure trove of locally made gifts and artworks from 167 stallholders.

Taking place in the lead up to Christmas it presents artists, designers and makers with a fantastic opportunity to exhibit, promote, network and sell creations and services directly to the public.

Artists, Designers & Makers working in any medium are invited to apply for stalls. The organisers are seeking a broad mix of interesting, original and high quality work to be made for sale.

If you’re interested in selling your lovely vintage wares in one of the most beautiful rooms in the whole city, contact Charlotte or Christina from Open Culture on 0151 478 4928 or info@culture.org.uk 

Johny and Andrea’s Light Night adventures!


How good was Light Night? Bloody good, is the answer.

LightNight is Liverpool’s one-night arts and culture festival, which took place on Friday night. Over 50 city centre organisations kept their galleries, museums and venues open until late, staging around 100 special cultural events for visitors of all ages.

This year, visitors were able to enjoy the launch of LOOK/13 Liverpool International Photography Festival, the public reopening of Central Library as part of the In Other Words festival, spectacular light projections, street theatre, and a vibrant myriad of walking tours, open studios, live music, hands-on workshops and much more.

I set off on Friday night with Johny, my favourite plus one, Vickie, and him indoors to see what was on offer.

DSCN0420We started with one of the most amazing things this city has witnessed for a long time. The opening of our magnificent new central Library. A glory of the age, the library celebrated its opening on LightNight. I’d been shown around as part of the press launch, but seeing it with people thronged around it was something else altogether. From the moment I saw one of my eldest child’s school chums doing her biology revision in a little corner, I knew that this place is going to be well-loved and well-used as a place of learning.

From there we pootled over to see Izzy Major from Hope Street Ltd performing the Open Culture commissioned “Bookworm.” Izzy was surrounded by books and positively encouraged audience participation, even getting Johny up to read from The Wizard of Oz to the delight of everyone who watched, if not Johny himself.

Johny becomes part of the performance. Bookworm by Izzy Major.

Johny becomes part of the performance. Bookworm by Izzy Major.

We headed over to the Baltic Creative to see Made Here, a pop-up shop selling locally made artwork and spent a lovely bit of time talking to Andrew Beattie of Give Me Soul Ltd about the upcoming Liverpool Craft Beer festival (more to follow on that one!) and Doctor Who. Always good to meet a fellow fan.

We then headed to cafe 51 just in time to see the wonderful Kaya Hersted Carney of the Science of the Lamps performing a fantastic acoustic set. With time running out to see more, we headed round the corner to Arena Studios, where Paul Bywater’s Sergio Leone inspired exhibition was on show. Pencil drawings of spaghetti western-style characters adorned the gallery’s walls, but were well out of our budget!

Blind portrait by Carol Ramsay

Blind portrait by Carol Ramsay

Arena always embrace Light Night and we’ve never left empty handed, and this year was no different. Johny won a trophy playing the rather existentially titled “Mystical Duck Portal of Fate” game, or “Duck Chuck” as my young Arena chum, Flynn calls it. then we had a blind portrait done by Arena artist Carol Ramsay, where I ended up with a rather fetching goatee, which Carol insists was my scarf!

We set off to Camp & Furnace and saw images from the LOOK/13 photography exhibition, including images form my Threshold chum, Michael Kirkham, who is the second most Googled Michael Kirkham on the planet, fact fans.

Edging our way past Camp & Furnace’s enormous bouncers, we sat down for a well earned rest and a little tipple while we listened to some good, old-school dance tunes. It was most definitely a night to remember.

Enormous thanks and congratulations go to everyone who pulled their guts out to make this year’s Light Night so, so good. You are all heroes in our eyes.

With apologies for the quality, here’s some pictures of the night. Can’t wait for next year.

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Andrea’s Top 12 of 2012

When a Top 10 just isn’t enough

It’s that time of year when we look back on the last twelve months and look forward to the year ahead.  As we scrape away the last of the turkey, think about what we’re doing for New Year’s eve and contemplate going back to work, I thought it would be good to look back at this year’s highlights.

And, man, have there been some!  I’m aware that I’ve become a bit of a broken record when I say that this year and being made a Cultural Champion has changed my life, but you don’t have to be an official champion to change yours.  You just need to put yourself out there.  I promise you it will pay bigger dividends than you ever imagined.

So, in the spirit of end of year lists, which I love to an unnecessary degree, here are my Top 12 highlights of 2012.  I can’t wait to see what the coming year will hold.  What about you?

In no particular order…

1. Acetate Steps: In memory of the mix tape @ Arena Studios & Gallery

My very first venture into the arts in Liverpool could not have been more of a revelation.  Nervous as hell and overwhelmed with information, I thought I’d start off with something small and intimate.  This gallery and its artists have become one of my absolute favourites over the year.  Set in the Baltic triangle, it’s well worth a visit.  Great exhibits, a fantastic bar below and lovely, lovely people.

2. Five Days Out For A Fiver

When I filled out my application to apply for the role of Cultural Champion, in the section called “What would you like to get out of the role?” I answered something along the lines of “To get out of the house, please.”

One of the best things I’ve done is to have some time with my children without spending a bomb.  We packed sandwiches, braved the lovely British weather and Liverpool’s public transport network and, boy, did we have a great time.  It takes some planning and we still never had a picnic in a sun drenched meadow, but we had some great times together, giggled like mad and my kids loved it.

3. Light Night

John, Ray and I along with Ray’s wife, Pauline, and my favourite plus one, Vickie, headed out into the very, very rainy streets of Liverpool for Light Night in May.  We saw the city lit up in all its architectural glory, we made our own art, encountered a zombie street takeover, met Andy Warhol (!) and saw a rain-drenched group of salsa dancers bringing some Brazilian style magic to the street.  An absolute gem of a night.

4. Henry V @ The Playhouse

The standard of productions at The Playhouse in 2012 has been consistently superb.  A close second here was A Streetcar Named Desire, featuring the most heartbreaking performance I’ve ever witnessed by Amanda Drew.  There was also the innovative and excellent Swallows and Amazons as well as Jack & The Beanstalk, possibly the most bonkers panto I ever laid eyes on.  It was so mad, that by the time Captain Spock and Wonder Woman flew on stage, I’d given up trying to make sense of it and just enjoyed the ride.But it was Henry V, which wins my prize for being the best play I’ve seen all year.  It completely changed my 20-odd-year-old mindset that traditional versions of Shakespeare plays are generally tedious and fol-de-rol.  It was lively, moving and beautifully acted.  I urged everyone I knew to go and see it and every single person who went loved it.  A great introduction to the bard and a perfect demonstration of why his work is still relevant today.

5. Sea Odyssey

On a bright and beautiful Friday morning in April I sat among a sea of volunteers in Stanley Park waiting to accompany the giants through our city.  We watched in awe as the Little Girl Giant and her dog, Xolo, woke up and got ready to walk into Liverpool city centre to meet her long lost Uncle.

As we escorted the Giants through the streets of Anfield I witnessed actual magic happen before my eyes.  No-one who saw the giants was not caught up by the magic.  Whole groups of people, some of whom may never have set foot in a theatre or art gallery, thronged the streets to become part of this wondrous event.

I escorted the Giant Uncle back to Stanley Park in the afternoon with my fellow Benevols, a particularly marvellous group of  people.  We watched in awe as a group of exotic, athletic, sweaty French men and women operated (or should I say “served”?) the giants.  I went home with one of the worst migraines I ever had, having walked next to an enormous bank of speakers for hours on end, but it was worth every bit of pain.

The Sea Odyssey will never be forgotten by anyone who saw it.  Brilliant.

6.  The Kazimier Garden

I’ve discovered some great little venues in the city over the last year. But the Kazimier Garden wins first prize hands down for the best night I’ve had all year.  Featuring a barbecue, two outdoor bars, a man sporting a bird of prey playing the role of MC, a tiny mechanical boat and the ropiest toilets I’ve encountered in a long time, by the time the house krunk band came on and blasted the place with the sound of drums and trumpets, I was in love.

Like taking a trip through the looking glass, it’s a shock when you leave and find yourself still in urban Liverpool.  A total delight of a place.

7. The Mathew Street Festival

“What?” I hear you exclaim.  Considering just how much I’ve banged on about how much I hate the Mathew Street Festival and its awful culture of drunken unpleasantness, you might well wonder why it’s here in my list of highlights of the year.  Well, I’ll tell you.

I gave it a go. I tried something.  And I found, to my genuine surprise, that hidden among a whole bunch of awfulness, you can find something pretty special. We discovered a little oasis of family friendliness in St John’s Garden and we rocked up on a boat that was part of the Mathew Street Fringe that was reminiscent of early 90s raves. Just goes to show it’s well worth putting yourself out there, because you never know what could happen.

8. The One Show

It started off with a t-shirt.  I’d had some made for John, Ray and I as we were taking part in the Guinness World Record attempt at the most people singing a song in the round at the new cruise liner terminal in October.  I was dropping John’s t-shirt off at the time he was filming for The One Show with the gorgeous and luminescent Carrie Grant. John was launching “The Fifth Beatle” – his dream of getting people who hadn’t played an instrument for years to play again.

John, Carrie and a rather dishy BBC director harangued me into being a backing singer.  Now let me tell you, I am by no stretch of the imagination a singer.  No way. Not a chance.  But egged on by an extremely excitable Johny, I took the rest of the day off work and ended up performing John and Carrie’s beatuful arrangement of ELO’s Livin’ Thing live on the BBC with a bunch of genuinely talented people in Eric’s.

I was as nervous as I’ve ever been, but I wanted to show my kids that even if you’re seriously afraid of something, you can still do it.  And now I can say I’ve performed on the same stage as U2, The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, Joy Division and a whole host of my musical heroes.  One to tell the grandkids.

9. Music on the Waterfront

At a time when Liverpool City Council is fighting economic misery, this was a great example of getting it just right.  This series of free concerts at the Pier Head showed that if you invest in the arts, it will bring people and money into the city.

With an eclectic, but high class, mix of performers, my personal highlight was seeing the magnificent Jocelyn Brown.  I may have embarrassed myself my bopping about in a manner unseemly for a woman in her 40s, but it was a glorious night.  And a great place to go with the whole family.

This needs to be an annual event.

10. The Phil

I can’t single out a particular event I’ve seen at the Phil, the whole range of performances over the year have been fantastic.  From the glorious old school movies, to contemporary comedians and 80s pop stars, the Phil has a knack of putting on great shows in a beautiful environment.

Particularly brilliant have been the family concerts, arranged by the exuberant Alastair Molloy, and the so good you’ve got to see ’em to believe it Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain.   The variety of shows is so mind boggling, there’s something there for anyone, no matter what your taste.

11. Richard Herring: Talking Cock @ The Epstein Theatre

After being accused by my eldest child of hating all comedians, I belly laughed my way through this amazing show.  Based on the results of a survey of over 10,000 men and women on the subject of, ahem, the male appendage, this had my sides and jaw aching with laughter.

Richard Herring even stayed behind afterwards  and gamely chatted to me about a question I had about the logistics of one of the answers to a question in the show.  He did the actions and everything, bless him.  Made me be prepared to give comedians another chance.

12. People!

I’m not the easiest person when it comes to making friends and meeting new people.  But I’ve made a deliberate effort this year to be more open as I’ve gone about being a Cultural Champion.  I’ve got in touch with people I know vaguely to invite them to events. I’ve stopped and chatted to strangers at events about what they think. I’ve emailed total strangers to ask them about what’s happening around the city.  And it’s been a revelation!

Everyone I’ve come across has been brilliant.  The people I’ve encountered who are involved in the arts in Liverpool are across the board a warm and welcoming bunch.  Sure, I’ve had a couple of loudly ignored emails, but in general everyone I’ve met or come across has been great.

Getting out and about and experiencing culture in Liverpool has changed all of my relationships and I’ve met some new and fantastic people who I won’t be letting go of.  It’s definitely the people I’ve been involved with who’ve made this year so, so special.  I’m not going to get all teary Oscar winner, here, but you know who you are.

So that was 2012.  Can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store.

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