What do a glow-in-the-dark skate park, a lift exploding from the pavement, caged lions, a Korean house wedged haphazardly between two buildings, a red prefab pumping out Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ on a loop, and 100 iron men have in common?

The answer is Liverpool Biennial.

Over the past two decades the UK’s largest celebration of contemporary art has commissioned more than 300 new artworks of all shapes and sizes, and shown pieces by over 400 artists from across the globe. It has also won a reputation for being exciting, edgy and controversial, thanks to artists like Yoko Ono and Ai Weiwei. So we can’t wait to see what it has in store for its 10th edition in 2018.

We’ve picked out our favourite both permanent and non-permanent artworks from Liverpool Biennial...

Anthony Gormley - Iron Men (2005)

One of the most famous Biennial installation that remains in Merseyside, Antony Gormley’s installation of 100 cast-iron sculptures. The sculptures are made from 17 different moulds taken from the sculptor’s own body. The were installed on Crosby Beach on the Mersey Estuary in 2005, they’re all facing the open sea, and evoking the relationship between the natural elements, space and the human body.  It has since become one of the most well-loved and widely recognised public art works in the UK.

The work covers a distance of almost 3km, with the pieces placed 250m apart along the tide line, and up to 1km out towards the horizon. The movement of local tides and daily weather conditions dictate whether the figures are visible or submerged.

Rita McBride - Toxteth Reservoir (2016)

Artist Rita McBride was commissioned by Liverpool Biennial in 2016 to produce a large-scale, site-specific installation inside the derelict Toxteth Reservoir, which is one of the first over ground reservoirs of its kind in the world.

Portal consists of eight green, high-strength laser beams, shot from either side of the reservoir, in between one of the central arches of the vaulted ceiling.

As you watch the lasers, you begin to notice a shimmering, glittering quality to them which you come to realise is the product of the light travelling through water vapour in the atmosphere. This, coupled with the constant drip of water leaking in from the roof and echoing around the cavernous space, reiterates the fact that the reservoir once used to be full to the brim with water. Portal uses the science fiction idea of time travel to consider the history of the reservoir and the politics of water.

Richard Wilson - Turning the Place Over (2007)

Turning the Place Over was one of Richard Wilson’s incredible temporary works, which colonised the former Yates’s Wine Lodge at Cross Keys House, Moorfields in June 2007 until January 2011.

An 8 metre circle was cut out from the facade of the Cross Keys building, and made to rotate in three dimensions. The revolving facade rested on a specially designed rotator usually used in the shipping and nuclear industries, and acted as a huge opening and closing ‘window’, offering recurrent glimpses of the interior during its constant cycle during daylight hours.

The construction programme started in February 2007 and involved the careful deconstruction of the façade across three floors of the building, which was then reconstructed and fixed to the enormous pivot installed at the heart of the building.

This astonishing feat of engineering stunned audiences on many levels. Disturbing and disorientating from a distance, from close-up passers-by had a thrilling experience as the building rotated above them.

Koo Jeong A x Wheelscape - Evertro (2014)

In February 2014, South Korean artist Koo Jeong teamed up with designers from Wheelscape Skateparks to create the UK’s first glow-in-the-dark skateboarding park, Evertro. The commission is a permanent sculpture at Everton Park, open for the public to use as a fully functioning space for skaters and BMX Bikers to use and enjoy.

Web of Light - Ai Weiwei (2008)

Today marks 10 years since Liverpool's Capital of Culture officially opened in 2008, a year we also welcomed Ai Weiwei's unforgettable Web of Light 🕸️ Part of Liverpool Biennial, this magical work was just one of the many incredible cultural events that put Liverpool firmly on the map. This year, as part of the just-announced programme for #Liverpool2018, we return for our 10th edition and we're so excited to welcome the world back to our city to see how much we've changed, and how this is only the beginning of yet another decade of incredible arts and culture. #LB2018 #liverpool #itsliverpool #liverpoolbiennial #publicart #2018 #contemporaryart #visualart #aiweiwei #spider #weboflight @visitliverpool_ @cultureliverpool @itsliverpool Image: Ai Weiwei, Web of Light, 2008. Photo: Adatabase

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Chinese artist and political activist, Ai Weiwei, span a web of gigantic proportions across Liverpool’s Exchange Flags for the Biennial in 2008. A symbol of creativity, a crystal studded spider laid at the heart of the web, while LED lights strung along the cables allowed us to enjoy a paradoxical night-time image of dew glistening in the sun.

Tatshurou Bashi - Villa Victoria (2002) 

In 2002, Tatshurou Bashi transformed Liverpool's renowned Queen Victoria monument and constructed a fully furnished, functioning hotel room with a reception around the monument in Derby Square. As well as a piece of artwork, the space was used as an event and meeting place to highlight and reminds us of the very nature of how and why such monuments exist and re-examines their relationship to the physical, historical, civic and social fabric of the city. The artist reflected: "The sculpture looks fresh and renewed, because you see it, standing in a room or foyer, and you see it from a new perspective".

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This blog has been written by Caitlin Cunningham, Digital Marketing Executive at Marketing Liverpool. You’ll see her posting everything Liverpool on our Twitter, Facebook & Instagram accounts and on our blogs. Caitlin is 24 years old and loves music, dogs and a good gin and tonic.


'Another Place' by Antony Gormley
Image: Ron Davies

Spectacular sculptures by Angel of the North artist Antony Gormley, Another Place consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along Crosby Beach.