Just like Brett Anderson and Edinburgh, some of Liverpool’s stand-out events have a fringe too.

Take the Mathew Street Festival Fringe, so impressive that it eclipses the real thing in our book, and now the Liverpool Independents Biennial.

Whereas the Biennial proper invites artists to create headline-grabbing works and installations in some of Liverpool’s biggest venues – think Tate Liverpool, FACT, the Open Eye and Bluecoat – the Independents allow local artists and smaller galleries get in on the act.

That means anything goes s far as what’s on display – and the venues include the likes of the Corke Gallery, Eggspace at Egg Cafe, View Two Gallery and St Luke’s (aka The Bombed-Out) Church.

Artists and venues fund the fringe event completely and it’s run by volunteers, so we think the team has done incredibly well to gather over 100 local and worldwide artists across some of the city’s less celebrated but most intriguing venues.

The next two months present a unique opportunity to see both. And while it goes without saying that we can’t do this year’s mammoth offering justice, there really is an embarrassment of riches, here are seven Independents picks:

ARK: The Temple Is Full of Water

Perhaps the wide use of installation doesn’t always work in the Biennial – it’s generally a form best used when used sparingly – but the choice of venue is often key.

With St Luke’s Church – the roofless, hollowed-out church at the top of Bold Street as a venue, we hope for good things from James Brady’s ‘eco-acoustic sound installation’ (his 2009 International Day of Climate Action live River Mersey performance pic above).

An exploration of how we interact with our environment, the distinction between the natural and artificial and sustainability could scarcely be better placed than the bombed-out church. Unless it was at, maybe, Primark.


If you’ve ever enjoyed popping bubble wrap you’ll want to head down to this live event, where the artist will be covered in the stuff and and rolled around the performance space.

The ultimate stress reliever? That depends on on how you view the accompanying poetry, alongside the public nudity and bubble wrap.

Sounds like a typical Friday night in to us.

Martin Greenland – Inventions & Reinventions

Martin Greenland’s images of bucolia – sometimes real, sometimes interpreted, sometimes imagined – won him the Liverpool John Moores 24 Painting Prize and, as part of the Independents, his work will be on display at South Liverpool’s Corke Gallery.

Greenland’s paintings give the impression of something not quite right – a blending of styles and landscapes that renders them compelling for reasons that may not be immediately obvious.

Check times for the Corke Gallery – you may have to make an appointment.

Barbara Ann Swan

Do you like wrestling? How about art? Then what about something from wrestler-turned artist Barbara Ann Swan?

Her work impressed the judges on BBC2’s X-Factor-goes-art effort Show Me The Monet and, in the artists’ own words, uses unconventional ways to convey the female form.

Looks as compelling as a belly-to-belly suplex.

Josie Jenkins – England Lost Me

There are few things that have the pathos of entropy – the force of nature that inevitably erodes human endeavours.

Think of crumbling ruins, abandoned factories and the careers of various Atomic Kittens.

Josie Jenkins’ landscapes explore the dichotomy of these spaces; the peculiar edgelands that mark the boundaries between the city and the countryside, between man and nature.

See her work at the Bridewell Studios and Gallery on Prescot Street.

The Soldier’s Rest

With Rebecca Joy Sharp’s Whale Song picking up plaudits left, right and centre we’re excited to see her new project with artist Claire Bates.

The Soldier’s Rest comprises embroidered poems, visual installation and sound and features the story of a soldier’s hotel in rural Wales during the First World War told in a Welsh form of haiku.

You can see The Soldier’s Rest at Landbaby at the Bluecoat. The artists will give an accompanying talk on Thursday 18th Oct and there will be workshops to boot.

Echoes 2012

We don’t know much about Echoes 2012 – by artists collective Surface – at this point, but we do know that they will be exhibiting in the indoor reservoir on High Park Street in Toxteth.

A superb use of an unlikely venue (who doesn’t want to see what’s inside an indoor reservoir) that shows the benefits of the Independents’ more loose, offbeat nature.

The Independents Biennial runs parallel to the Liverpool Biennial between September 15 – November 25.

Top image by Neal Dawson

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