A splash of colour at the Bluecoat


Today was exceptionally grey but was the first dry day for nearly a week, so I decided to go out for the afternoon. Monday through to Friday I go to work before sunrise, and it’s dark again by the time I get home, so weekends are particularly precious in winter.

I took the train to Liverpool with an entirely different intention, but having failed to find what I was looking for and with just a couple of hours of proper light left, I decided just to ‘potter’.

Catching sight of the Bluecoat, I realised it must have been two or three years since I’d last gone inside, so I decided that looking at some art would be a good way to salvage what risked becoming a wasted afternoon.


The Liverpool Bluecoat was opened in 1725 as a school and is the oldest building in Liverpool city centre. The initiative of the Rector of Liverpool, Robert Stythe, and Master Mariner, Brian Blundell, its purpose was to educate the boy pupils, through Christian charity, in the tradition of the Anglican faith. It functioned as a school for nearly 200 years until growing pupil numbers required relocation. From the time it closed as a school in 1908, it reinvented itself as the arts community hub which it still is today.



Parts of the elegant Queen Anne style building are now used by independent businesses.



Once inside, a large and airy a cafeteria offers a nice space to have lunch away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre just a stone’s throw away.

The Blucoat runs a variety of arts projects and exhibitions, and until late February is hosting It’s My Pleasure to Participate by London-based American artist, Alexis Teplin.


The artist works through an unusually varied media of paint, sculpture, film and performance which draw on traditions from art history including still life, landscape painting and literature. The same themes of both vivid and muted colour and robust and delicate materials  flow throughout the exhibition, linking all into what’s described as an ‘expanded painting’, beyond the flat of the canvas.




The actors in the film above, which plays on loop, wear some of the same costumes on display in the gallery. I didn’t watch the whole film but I was intrigued by how the spellings of some words had been changed in the subtitles, still clearly recognisable as the actual words, but with an altered poetic quality. I captured a couple of examples in the images above.


The objects on the beautifully crafted metal table above represent typical subjects used in still life paintings; each, including the blown glass pieces, has been created by the artist.

I enjoyed the exhibition and ‘got’ the concept of the ‘expanded painting’. I would have struggled to interpret any of the objects in isolation, but the the point – which escaped me at first – is that they are not isolated, but one piece.

A glimpse of some foliage led me into the garden which still looked charming for the time of year.






So the day didn’t turn out quite so grey after all.

16 thoughts on “A splash of colour at the Bluecoat

  1. Eunice January 25, 2020 / 11:25 pm

    I like the exterior of the building, it looks really lovely, but I can’t say much for the painted so-called ‘artworks’ on the walls inside – they don’t impress me at all. At least you didn’t have a totally wasted journey to Liverpool.


  2. Anonymous January 26, 2020 / 5:24 am

    I enjoyed the bright colours the art work, and am intrigued by the concept of an Expanded Painting. I particularly liked your pic of the dried brown flower head.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ms6282 January 26, 2020 / 11:02 am

    I’ve not been to the Bluecoat for a while. I love the building and they often have interesting contempoary exhibitions. Are those mushrooms by Katy Spragg? https://www.katiespragg.com/


    • Welcome to the Beautiful North January 26, 2020 / 11:38 am

      No, they are by Serena Korda, and they are actually bells 😀 This installation in the Bluecoat’ garden was part of a much larger exhibition last year at Speke Hall ‘The Bell Tree’. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to seeing it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ms6282 January 26, 2020 / 11:40 am

        Ta. Yes I remember they had that exhibition on at Speke Hall, but didn’t get over to see it either.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. matthewmckinnonsblog January 26, 2020 / 1:39 pm

    Well your aftrnoon was not at all wasted. Thanks for showing us around the ‘Bluecoat’, what a lovely building and the garden looks very interesting too. I like the abstract art, and as you say it’s very colourful, but not so sure about the ‘expanded painting’ concept, but I’m an engineer, not an artist 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sustainablemum January 26, 2020 / 5:02 pm

    What an interesting place. How lovely to find an oasis of calm so close to the city centre.


  6. shazza January 26, 2020 / 9:36 pm

    You definitely turned the day around, the blucoat looks such a wonderful place to visit and I love the garden too. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to the Beautiful North January 26, 2020 / 10:42 pm

      It’s a really small place and usually only has one exhibition at a time, two at most, but being right in the city centre, nestled in alongside Liverpool One, it’s a lovely little escape.


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