Profile: The Bluecoat Chambers
October 18, 2015
The Bluecoat Chambers contemporary arts centre is perhaps Liverpool’s most unique artistic space. With a history as rich, intriguing and inspiring as the exhibitions and performances to be found inside, it is a must-visit on any trip to Liverpool.
Having begun life as a charitable school, the Bluecoat lays claim to the honour of being the oldest building in the city centre, with the current Grade I listed structure having been completed in the early 18th century. Notable firsts for the Bluecoat include being home to the oldest arts society in Great Britain and the first known use of a certain famous bird as an architectural feature.
The consistently charitable, community-focused use of the premises is something that has marked the chambers out as special over the years – long after the school left the site in 1906. Following a brief period of uncertainty upon the school’s vacation, the building was rented out by a local art society in 1907, and with help from local investors and charities along the way, has been used to showcase artistic talent ever since.
The current carnation of the chambers is the result of a re-development that took place in preparation for Liverpool’s year as European capital of culture in 2008. This latest in a long line of reinvigorations has been an undoubted success. If you head down to the modern Bluecoat on any given day you can be sure to encounter a menagerie of well-meaning artistic and cultural activity unlike anything else to be found in the city.
The chambers contains four gallery spaces, several studios, performance areas, creative retail outlets, a second hand book store and possibly the most tasteful café/ bar in Liverpool. So there’s a lot to explore. But the Bluecoat can’t be defined by a list of its admittedly refined spaces. It is an ever changing creative hub, the heartbeat of a healthy Liverpool art scene that has to be enjoyed first hand to be truly understood.
Whether you go to a children’s philosophy class, a poetry reading, or just pop in for a coffee and a nose around the free art exhibitions, there really is something for everyone at the Bluecoat – a something that is as different and vibrant on your first visit as it is on your fortieth.
“Bluecoat believes everyone can craft and be creative and it is our aim to provide a space where creativity can flourish and be shared “