Malcolm Lowry Centenary
25 September-22 November 2009
Malcolm Lowry described Liverpool as ‘that terrible city whose main street is the ocean’. Born in 1909 on the Wirral, on the other side of the river Mersey, Lowry’s relationship to the Merseyside of his youth informs his writing and Liverpool itself continued to hold tremendous significance for him, even though he never returned.
On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, the Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, is working with a group of Lowry enthusiasts in the city and international experts, to celebrate this event with an arts programme and publication examining Lowry’s life and work, including his masterpiece, Under the Volcano, and lesser known works.
This celebration will take place 25 September-22 November and the programme will centre on the Bluecoat, which reopened in 2008 following a major redevelopment of its historic building, in time for Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture. Just around the corner from the site of the Anatomy Museum in Paradise Street that so fascinated and appalled Lowry, the Bluecoat is situated in the heart of Liverpool, and has been a centre for the arts for the past 100 years.
The Lowry centenary programme currently in development includes:
• a major exhibition, Under the Volcano, comprising UK and international visual artists’ responses to Lowry and his writing, including painting, film, installation, drawing and photography. Artists include Ross Birrell & David Harding, Julian Cooper, Colin Dilnot, Pete Flowers, Adrian Henri, Cisco Jiménez, Ray Lowry, Cian Quayle, Paul Rooney and others tbc
• screenings during the exhibition of Donald Brittain’s Canadian TV documentary Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (1976)
• a film programme curated by Mark Goodall relating to Lowry’s interest in cinema, including rare films from the 1920s, and John Huston’s Volcano (with Albert Finney) shown at Picture House at FACT, close to the Bluecoat
• a music strand in response to Lowry’s passion for jazz and his own skills on the taropatch (ukelele), including a contemporary choral song cycle written by poet Ian McMillan and musician Luke Carver Goss (21 November)
• contemporary dance and other performances inspired by the Lowry legend
• live literature events involving Lowry specialists and contemporary writers responding to Lowry’s novels, short stories and poetry
• a talks programme focusing on aspects of Lowry and Liverpool, and other points on his creative compass – Mexico, Canada, New York, the Isle of Man. Lowry’s biographer Gordon Bowker (‘Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry’) is participating in the Bluecoat’s Chapter & Verse literature festival (14-18 October)
• a 12 hour psychogeographical Lowry day, ‘The Voyage That Never Ends’, journeying to resonant sites on Merseyside (31 October)
• a Mexican Day of the Dead altar dedicated to Lowry, created at the Bluecoat in collaboration with Javier Calderon and local participants (1/2 November, the date on which Under the Volcano is set)
• a publication, Malcolm Lowry: from the Mersey to the world, with 12 new essays and many images, published by Liverpool University Press in collaboration with the Bluecoat, edited by Helen Tookey and Bryan Biggs and including texts by Gordon Bowker, Ailsa Cox, Colin Dilnot, Annick Drösdal-Levillain, Michele Gemelos, Mark Goodall, Ian McMillan, Nicholas Murray, Cian Quayle, Alberto Rebollo, Robert Sheppard and Michael Turner
• a commemorative Lowry bottled beer brewed specially for the occasion
Further information Bryan Biggs, Artistic Director, the Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX. Telephone: 0151 709 5297,