The commissions of Liverpool Biennial 2018

A few weeks ago somebody said ‘Do you think I could get to all the Biennial artworks in a day?’ I said, ‘ it depends how fast you walk’... Or how fast you ride.

Want to see the Biennial but on a strict timescale? Get yourself two wheels and follow our ‘Biennial by bike’ trail. Liverpool is a compact city, so whether you’re a keen cyclist or haven’t ridden a bike in years, we reckon it’s doable. 

Getting your bike

If you don’t have your own set of wheels that’s no problem. Hire one from City bike. There’s a rank on Old Hall Street where you can collect your new ride. Just register and pay online on their website, get your confirmation code and you’re ready to go. Hire starts from £3. 

ce you've got your bike, we're onto the start of our trail which is just a few pedals away from where you'll be picking up your ride. 

Exchange Flags - Location Number 1 

We're starting our journey in Liverpool's 'Commercial Quarter' at Exchange Flags. Holly Hendry's brand new large scale commission is unmissable and in a grand setting. 

The giant 'pipe like' sculptures are made from Glass Reinforced Concrete and are a reflection of Hendry's interest in Liverpool's architecture. She takes inspiration from the iconic Williamson tunnels to the Old Dock, which is buried under Liverpool ONE. 

Cenotaph is commissioned by Liverpool Biennial and Liverpool BID Company.


Location 1 > Location 2 & 3

🚲 We’re heading on a short-ride now to the waterfront. Cycle out of Exchange Flags and head down Water Street where you’ll ride towards the iconic Liver Building. Use the crossings to cross the Strand towards the iconic ‘Three Graces’ and turn left to head towards Location number 2 and 3.. Open Eye Gallery and RIBA North. πŸš²

Cycle Directions from Exchange Flags to Open Eye Gallery and RIBA North  (provided by Google Maps)

Open Eye Gallery - Location 2

Lock your bike up on the fences to the left of the triangular black building and head in through the glass doors to Open Eye Gallery. 

Inside the gallery you’ll find a series of photographs depicting regional rulers in the Nigerian home of artist, George Osodi. ‘Nigerian Monarchs’ is a selection of images conveying the varying personalities of the rulers as well as their extravagant finery such as the crown and the sceptre. 

These Silences Are All the Words is a film installation by Madiha Aijaz. This film explores the public libraries of Karachi, Pakistan against the backdrop  of the city’s changing landscape. 

Madiha Aijaz is commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, Karachi Biennale and The Tetley, as part of the New North and South, in collaboration with Hospitalfield and ROSL Arts.


Location 2 > 3

No cycling needed, just pop next door to RIBA North, the National Architecture Centre for 'Hack the Root.'

RIBA - Location Number 3

Inside Mae-ling Lokko's installation looks like a hazardous zone upon first glance, with warning tape and plastic covers... Hack the Root consists of an architectural structure grown from mushrooms (or if we're being scientific, 'agrowaste-fed mycelium'). 

In a series of ‘Grow it Yourself’ workshops, biomaterial building panels are made from a fungus and grown in a large ‘grow chamber’ inside the gallery. 


Location 3 > 4

🚲We’re hopping back on the bikes for a super short ride. Head on towards the Museum of Liverpool, and over towards the Albert Dock, where we’ll be going to the Tate. There are bike racks outside however if you prefer to leave the bikes at Open Eye Gallery, it’s just a 2 or 3 minute walk to get them back. 🚲

Cycle Directions to Tate Liverpool from Open Eye Gallery/RIBA

Tate Liverpool - Location Number 4

A jungle of colour awaits inside Tate Liverpool, with new and existing works from Kevin Beasley, Dale Harding, Brian Jungen, Duane Linklater, Annie Pootoogook, Joyce  Wireland and Haegue Yang. 

Biennial Highlights at Tate Liverpool include

Haegue Yang’s creation, The Intermediates stands in the Wolfson Gallery. They’re made from artificial woven straw and allude to both the traditional arts and crafts techniques and modern industrial production methods. 

Dale Harding, a descendent of the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples of Central Queensland, Australia has created a new wall-based work. The work is inspired by rock art sites in Queensland. Harding uses a stencil technique practised by his ancestors. 

Kevin Beasley’s installation Your Face is / is not enough 2016 is a sculpture and performance based piece that consists of twelve re-purposed NATO-issued gas masks, on mic stands and paired with altered megaphones, it is a sight to behold. Pigmented foam, guinea fowl feathers, glass beads, clothes, shoes…. 

Look out for Brian Jungen’s feathers carved from Nike trainers. 


Location 4 > 5

🚲Get on your bikes and ride, because we’re off to the Bluecoat. Exit the Albert Dock and cross over towards Liverpool ONE (Thomas Steers Way), here you might even want to stop off and peek down at the Old Dock that inspired Hendry’s installation at Exchange Flags. Head up Paradise Street and take a cut-through School Lane (next to Schuh Kids) and you’ll find the Bluecoat. 🚲

Cycle Directions to the Bluecoat from Tate Liverpool

The Bluecoat - Location Number 5

In 2018, the Bluecoat presents brand new works by Abbas Akhavan, Shannon Ebner, Ryan Gander, Suki Seokyeong Kang, Silke Otto-Knapp and Melanie Smith. 

Variations on a Ghost by Abbas Akhavan fills Bluecoat’s Vide gallery. This particular piece makes references to the artworks destroyed by ISIS over the last decade.

Melanie Smith’s new film Maria Elena takes its title from a town situated in the Atacama Desert, South America. The film is made up of fragmented narratives of the colonial past with the dusty present of the salt mine. 

Look out for Suki Seokyeong Kangs work, Land Sand Strand, a multi part installation which transforms the exhibition space into a grid.

Ryan Gander’s piece Time Moves Quickly is a collaborative project with local school children from Knotty Ash which you'll get to see more of later.  


Location 5 > 6

🚲Ready to go? We’re off on a short ride up Bold Street to FACT. Ride under the colourful umbrellas, turn right onto Church Street and cross the road to Bold Street. 🚲

Directions to FACT by bike from the Bluecoat

FACT - Location Number 6

Inside you’ll find Agnes Varda’s first ever UK commission. The legendary French New Wave filmmaker has created a three-channel video installation.

Mohamed Bourouissa’s film documents his newly built community garden in Toxteth which you can find out more about here, in our blog. 


Location 6 > 7

🚲Get ready to ride again. We’re off to Williamson Square to see the Playhouse Theatre thoroughly taken over by Liverpool Biennial. Zoom down Bold Street, onto Church Street, past M&S and into Williamson Square. 🚲 

Cycle Directions to Playhouse Theatre from FACT. 

Playhouse Theatre - Location Number 7

Inside Liverpool’s Grade II listed Playhouse theatre, you’ll see that it has been completely taken over by Biennial commissioned artists, Ei Arakawa, Ari Benjamin Meyers, Reetu Sattar, Lacopo Seri. 

Ari Bejamin Meyers has created a series of musical compositions that form the basis for portraits of four musicians from Liverpool, or with musical ties to the city.

Ei Arakawa presents a new version of his project Performance People for Liverpool. There’s a film by artist, Reetu Sattar called Harano Sur (Lost Tune) which focuses on the harmonium, a musical instrument that is traditionally integral to the Bangladeshi culture, but is in danger of dying out. 

Head to the first floor bar for Iacopo Seri’s take on exploring the state of drunkenness and the effect of altered states. 


Location 7 > 8

🚲 With 7 locations under our belt, we’ve seen an impressive amount of art so far. But there is more to be seen and we’re on to the next location. You won’t be able to miss it, it is arguably the most grand building in the city. St George’s Hall is where we’re off to next. There’s a few crossings here, so probably best to wheel your bike and walk - it’s only 4 minutes. 🚲

Cycle Directions to St George's Hall from Playhouse 

St George's Hall - Location 8 

There are multiple locations within St George’s Hall, in the underground spaces and prison cells. 

Explore the art of protest with Chou Yu-Cheng’s gold plated work. You’ll notice dents on the piece, made by the public when the work was first presented. 

There’s a short film by Joyce Wieland, Sailboat 1967 that depicts yachts moving across the water. 

Inci Enviner’s newly commissioned film Reenactment of Heaven, looks at ideas of Heaven and specifically the woman’s place in heaven. 

Artists, Aslan Gaisumov, Lamia Joreige, Brian Jungen and Duane Linklater and Naeem Mohaiemen also have film installations within St George’s Hall. 

✨ You may have noticed that this particular area of the city is pretty beautiful. Want to explore it further? Head over to the Walker Art Gallery and take a look at this year’s John Moores Painting Prize. ✨ 

This reflective, gold-plated work by Chou Yu-Cheng interrogates the act of protest ✊ All across its hypnotic surface, visitors can see indentations made by rocks thrown by the public when the work was first presented. It continues the artist's questioning of value in the art world and subtle critique of mass media, institutions and mechanisms that produce them. Displayed in the foyer of @stgeorgeshall_liverpool, you won't be able to miss Chou Yu-Cheng's glistening work. #chouyucheng #contemporaryart #visualart #art #artinstallation #installation #gold #stgeorgeshall #liverpool #liverpoolbiennial #LB2018 Image: Chou Yu-Cheng, Chemical gilding, keep calm, galvanise, pray, gradient, ashes, manifestation, unequal, dissatisfaction, capitalise, incense burner, survival, agitation, hit, day light, 2015. Installation view at St George’s Hall. Photo: Thierry Bal

A post shared by Liverpool Biennial (@liverpoolbiennial) on


Location 8 > 9 

🚲 We’re going on a ride now. Hop on your bike and prepare yourself. Take the ride along Lime Street, Berry Street and then up Upper Duke Street. You might need to brace yourself for the final stretch, it can be a little steep. 🚲

Directions to the Oratory from St George's Hall 

The Oratory - Location Number 9 

Next to the Cathedral is a beautiful little Grecian building called The Oratory. The Oratory is rarely open to the public, but is screening a film installation by Mathias Poledna as part of the Biennial. The building also houses an outstanding collection of 19th-century memorial sculptures. 

✨ If you’ve never visited Liverpool Cathedral, now is the perfect time. You can’t miss it and it’s beauty. Step inside and admire the ornate stained glass windows, one of which  is adorned by a neon Tracey Emin piece. ✨

Set against the backdrop of early 20th-century European history, Mathias Poledna's new film for Liverpool Biennial 2018 explores modernity's visual imaginary. It finds the perfect setting in the usually-closed Oratory, situated near Liverpool Cathedral, and is screened amongst an outstanding collection of 19th-century memorial sculpture. Step inside this incredible building to experience a film which uses the images of our collective imagination, present and past, to explore a period of traumatic modernisation and conflict. #mathiaspoledna #contemporaryart #visualart #art #videoart #installation #artinstallation #theoratory #oratory #classical #sculpture #liverpoolcathedral #liverpool #liverpoolbiennial #LB2018 Image: Mathias Poledna, Untitled, 2018. Installation at the Oratory. Photo: Thierry Bal

A post shared by Liverpool Biennial (@liverpoolbiennial) on


Location 9 > 10

🚲We’re reaching the end of our Biennial trail now as we reach Location 10. You’ll be glad to know that its a very flat route if you’re still reeling from the uphill walk/ride. Alternatively, there’s a city bike station here where you can drop your bike back.🚲

Cycle directions to Blackburne House from the Oratory

Blackburne House - Location Number 10

You’re going for a facial! Blackburne House - the first girls school in the country. 

Inside, Taus Makhacheva in collaboration with Alexander Kutovoi has created a ruin-like sculptural installation that serves as a spa 😍. Inside the installation, a new range of beauty products has been developed with Tigran Geletsyan from 22|11 Cosmetics for spa treatments. 

The facial takes around 30 minutes and is carried out by a performer. During the treatment, you become a sculptural subject and you’ll hear stories about artworks that have disappeared throughout the history of art. 

Rehana Zaman’s new film has been developed over the course of six months with a group of young women from Liverpool at Blackburne House; it is also the starting point for a new women’s film co-operative. How Does an Invisible Boy Disappear? 

Remnants from those who have been transformed by Taus Makhacheva's ASMR Spa... Taking place inside a sculptural installation, visitors are treated to a facial while stories of artworks that have disappeared throughout the history of art are told. Lasting 30 minutes, the experience culminates in the plastifying mask being taken away and the new artwork is revealed... you. Sessions are held every Friday and Saturday at Blackburne House and you can book your place at πŸ’†‍♀️ #tausmakhacheva #contemporaryart #visualart #art #mask #spa #treatment #liverpoolbiennial #liverpool #blackburnehouse #LB2018 Image: Taus Makhacheva, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) Spa, 2018. Installation view at Blackburne House, Liverpool Biennial 2018. Photo: Thierry Bal

A post shared by Liverpool Biennial (@liverpoolbiennial) on


Location 10 > 11

🚲 A short ride down the road and the next location is Victoria Gallery and Museum. 🚲

Directions for the four minute cycle to Victoria Gallery and Museum.

Victoria Gallery and Museum - Location Number 11

Look for the red brick building. The first red-brick university building dating back to 1892. Inside you’ll find works by contemporary artists spanning the floors. 

Francis Alÿs presents a selection of postcard-size paintings from the 1980s to today under the title Age Piece. 

Joseph Grigely’s series Songs without Words is based on newspaper images of singers and musicians. The works explore the representation and communication of sound and are taken from the New York Times. 

Other artists exhibiting include Silk Otto-Knapp, Aslan Gaisumov, Holly Hendry and Taus Makhacheva


Location 11 > 12

🚲 Turn around now because we’re going to the final location, and where better to end that on the Plateau of the Metropolitan Cathedral? There’s a city-bike drop off point just to the right of the Plateau, on Mount Pleasant, if you’re ready to end the ride here. πŸš² 

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Plateau - Location Number 12

Five bench-like sculptures can be found on the plateau behind the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

This new commission by Ryan Gander and school children from Liverpool, Jamie Clark, Phoebe Edwards, Tianna Mehta, Maisie Williams and Joshua Yates looked at a dissected model of the modernist cathedral and created a series of new configurations. 

The maquettes that Gander and the children created have been reproduced on a larger scale to produce this new public seating arrangement within the cathedral grounds. This presentation is part of a larger project, Time Moves Quickly.


🍱After all this cycling, you'll need a rest. Hope Street is a haven of fabulous restaurants and bars to choose from. We recommend heading to the Pen Factory and filling up on delicious small plates in the rustic, industrial setting. πŸ±

✨ BONUS βœ¨

On Saturdays, Mohamed Bourouissa's Granby Resilience Garden can be visited between the hours of 2pm and 5pm. The garden was created with the help of local people, school children and gardeners. You can read more about the Resilience Garden here. 


If you'd like to download the entire route to the trip (minus walkable directions) click here for the Google Map. Unfortunately 10 locations is the max stop offs available. 

Blog Post Profile πŸ’…

This blog has been written by Jess Cavendish, Digital Marketing Manager for Marketing Liverpool. Jess looks after all things website and content related for VisitLiverpool/its liverpool, Marketing Liverpool and Liverpool Convention Bureau digital channels!

Jess loves and Aperol Spritz, her second favourite city (after Liverpool of course), is a toss up between Rome and Berlin  πŸ€”


Liverpool Biennial
Stacked Heads by Rashid Johnson at Canning Dock - a sculpture with plants on with the backdrop of the three graces.

Liverpool Biennial 2021 have launched the first chapter of The Stomach and the Port on with a series of outdoor sculptures, sonic and digital commissions alongside the new Biennial Online Portal.