A Visitor’s Guide to Liverpool Biennial 2016

Posted on 28 August 2016 by Liverpool Biennial

Cains Brewery. Photo: Mark McNulty

Cains Brewery. Photo: Mark McNulty

Liverpool Biennial 2016 runs until 16 October with free exhibitions, performances, talks, tours, screenings and family activities taking place across the city. Here’s everything you need to know to get the most out of your visit.

Who, What, Where, When?

Liverpool Biennial is the UK’s largest free festival of newly commissioned contemporary art. This year the city-wide exhibition features work by over 40 international artists spread across 22 locations. The 9th edition is organised around the theme of episodes and time travel, drawing inspiration from Liverpool’s past, present and imagined future. It unfolds throughout the city, inhabiting a former brewery, an iconic Art Deco cinema, a Chinese supermarket and Victorian reservoir, as well as galleries, public spaces and even three double-decker buses. There is a packed programme of artist performances, film screenings, exhibition tours and public talks.

Also showing during the Biennial are the John Moores Painting Prize, showcasing the best new painting in Britain today, and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, recognised nationally and internationally as a reliable barometer of future trends in art. Finally, this year’s Biennial Fringe, curated by The Double Negative, brings together the best independent screenings, gigs, performances, symposiums, mini-festivals and happenings during the festival. 

Before you visit

With so much to see and do, we recommend taking two to three days to experience the festival fully. Here are some useful tools to help you plan your trip.

Plan your route – explore our many exhibition sites in the city and use the map to make your own route. You can also browse through our festival guide online. In advance of your visit, save this audio work by Marcos Lutyens to your phone or tablet so you are prepared to engage with myths, rumours and portals whilst walking around the city. The University of Liverpool has also produced an excellent audio guide on the intriguing history of Cains Brewery.   

Hondo Chinese Supermarket. Photo: Mark McNulty

Search for events – find out what’s happening on the day of your visit on the events page. For cinema lovers, we have a specially curated programme of films influenced by genres including sci-fi, mockumentary and pseudo-documentary. For families, laugh along with us at the monthly Sunday Comedy Club, try something new at FACT’s Do Something! Saturdays or visit Explore at Bluecoat to take part in creative sessions inspired by the New Contemporaries exhibition. For those who want to delve a bit deeper, join Walker Gallery’s free John Moores Painting Prize Tuesday Talk or drop into one of the free exhibition tours happening every Saturday and Sunday throughout the festival. In October, we present two unique performances by artists Coco Fusco and Adam Linder

Michael Portnoy, Relational Stalinism – The Musical, 2016. Photo: Rob Battersby

Accommodation – If you’re planning to stay overnight, check out Hope Street HotelThe NadlerHotel Indigo and Pullman Liverpool, all of which offer special rates for Liverpool Biennial 2016 visitors. 

Travel – Liverpool John Lennon Airport is only nine miles from the city centre and offers over 70 inbound UK and European routes. The mainline train station, Liverpool Lime Street, is ideally located in the heart of the city centre. Virgin Trains offers a direct high-speed service from the centre of London, which takes just over two hours.

Getting Around – We also have plenty of tips around travel and navigating the city during the visit. Most venues are within walkable distance, and the works in Liverpool 8 can be easily reached by bus (82 to Park Road or 80 along Princes Venue) or by hiring a Liverpool city bike. 

On the day

Nearly all exhibition sites are open daily from 10am until 6pm, but we recommend checking individual venues’ opening times before your visit. Entrance to all exhibitions is free and you can pick up your festival guide from the train station, airport or at all exhibition venues, as well as at numerous pubs, restaurants and shops throughout the city.

Within a 2-minute walk of Lime Street Station, you will find the  ABC Cinema and the John Moores Painting Prize at Walker Art Gallery. If you are by the waterfront, exhibitions at Tate Liverpool and Open Eye Gallery, as well as Betty Woodman’s new bronze fountain for the city, are all within a 5 minutes’ walk. In the city centre, interact with artworks in public spaces including a sci-fi sculpture at Exchange Flags, a tree of binoculars Derby Square and an infinite staircase at Liverpool ONE, or call into Bluecoat and India Buildings, where an exhibition of work by 10 artists based in the North of England is on show.

ABC Cinema installation view. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Hummingbird Clock, 2016. Installation view at Derby Square. Photo: Mark McNulty

Around by the ropewalks area, call into FACT and The Oratory as well as more unusual locations including Masterchef restaurantEpic HotelHondo Chinese Supermarket and Mr Chilli restaurant. If you are by the Metropolitan Cathedral, check out the exhibition inside the Liverpool School of Art & Design’s Exhibition Research Lab. In the Baltic Triangle, the former Cains Brewery houses an exhibition of works by 15 international artists and Mark Leckey’s film, Dream English Kid 1964 – 199AD, can be found close by at the Blade Factory. Make sure you leave time to head over to Liverpool 8 where artworks which act as ‘monuments from the future’ can be discovered on the streets and inside a former Victorian reservoir.

Lara Favaretto, Momentary Monument – The Stone, 2016. Installation view at Rhiwlas Street. Photo: Mark McNulty 

Visitor Hub – Stop by our dedicated Visitor Hub at Cains Brewery. This cavernous space hosts the work of over 15 international artists and is a good place to begin your Biennial adventure. Our friendly team is on hand for further advice on what to see and do, and you can also pick up a number of guides to what else is happening in the city, including the Biennial Fringe one and an alternative guide to Liverpool by a group of artists from Ukraine.

Andreas Angelidakis, Collider, 2016. Installation view at Cains Brewery. Photo: Mark McNulty

Yin-Ju Chen, Extrastellar Evaluations, 2016. Installation view at Cains Brewery. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones

The Visitor Hub is also the place to browse and choose from our unique selection of  Limited Edition artist prints, including new works by Biennial artists such as Betty Woodman and Mark Leckey. The Biennial 2016 book, The Two-Sided Lake, is also on sale here, bringing together contributions by artists, curators and writers to explore the idea of the ‘episode’ in film, literature and computation.

Betty Woodman, Fountain, 2016 (Limited Edition) 

Keep in touch – If you have any questions throughout the day, do not hesitate to tweet us @Biennial, call +44 (0)330 123 0584 or speak to our team in any of the exhibition locations. Let us know how your trip is going by sharing your photos and experiences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #Biennial2016. 

Food and Drink – You will find great places to eat and drink throughout your visit. Check out Biennial partners Restaurant Bar and GrillFazenda Bar and GrillOh Me Oh My and Buyers Club. Alternatively, if you are closer to Renshaw Street, try the vegetarian Egg Café or the many restaurants and bars on Bold Street. If you are in Cains, stop by the newly opened Ryde café or Camp and Furnace after watching Mark Leckey’s film at the Blade Factory. Further information and guidance on many of Liverpool’s best restaurants, pubs and shops can be found at Independent Liverpool.

After your visit

Explore further works digitally and learn more about the works on display with insightful content on the Biennial website.

Art online – Liverpool Biennial 2016 extends online with digital artworks and projects created by artists. Help us build the largest ever virtual sculpture on Minecraft, try Dennis McNulty’s digital app to generate low-res animations, explore Oliver Laric’s 3-D scans of sculptures from the National Museums Liverpool collection and more.

Oliver Laric, Puck, 2016 (3D scan)  

Read – read interviews with a number of this year’s artists including Samson KambaluAna JottaKoenraad Dedobeleer and Lindsey Bull on the Biennial blog. There is plenty of behind-the-scenes insight on how artworks come together, how the festival was curated and its themes and locations.

Watch – head over to the video channel to hear straight from the artists on the thinking and inspiration behind their works, watch exhibitions come together in matter of seconds and share the highlights with your friends.

Shop – browse through our online shop for a book or a limited edition print to add to your contemporary add collection.

Let us know what you thought – Post your photos and comments online using #Biennial2016 and take 10 minutes to fill out our online questionnaire. Alternatively, you can send us your feedback directly at visit@biennial.com.

Sign up for weekly updates – Keep up to date with daily our regular events programme and announcements throughout the summer by following us on social media and subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

We hope you enjoy your visit!

Mariana Castillo Deball, To-day 9th of July 2016, 2016 in Liverpool ONE. Photo: Jerry Hardman-Jones