Young girl taking a picture of a huge castle made of cardboard
Lost Castles - Liverpool 2018

BLOG: A Creative Union for Liverpool City Region

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This August will see ‘Imagine Bamboo is Everywhere’ take place as part of Liverpool City Region’s Cultural Events Programme. With the award-winning team, Culture Liverpool, lead producing the FREE, bamboozling experience, Director Claire McColgan CBE, reflects on the importance of bringing culture to the doorsteps of everyone across the City Region.  

We know all too well the power culture has to bring people and communities together. Here in Liverpool events have become second nature to us all – from Culture Liverpool’s perspective, we thrive on creating, curating and delivering these unforgettable events – whether they’re grassroots activities, or all-singing-all-dancing showstopping spectacles like Eurovision (yes, I still can’t stop mentioning it!). And on the flipside, Liverpool residents and visitors have come to expect an annual culture calendar – they plan their schedules around what is taking place, invite out-of-the-city friends and family to come and stay so they can experience the city at its very best – when we’re putting on a show.  And that’s exactly as it should be.

What I really love though is when culture has no geographical boundaries. Over the past few years we have spread our wings and looked past the city limits to our city region neighbours in order to share the events love. We already had experience of working closely with colleagues in Wirral, including a rather large Giant waking up on New Brighton beach, early iterations of River of Light involved fireworks on both sides of the Mersey, and the River once again bonded us when we staged the River Festival with maritime activities taking place in both boroughs simultaneously. And how can we forget the arrival of three magnificent Cunard Queens in 2015 which at the time saw record visitor numbers for both Liverpool and Wirral.

This gave us an appetite to do more, and not just with one of our neighbours, but all of them – a  creative union which would engage and inspire residents across the Liverpool City Region, encouraging each area to embrace the event and make it very much their own.

Our first venture in this joined-up working was 2018 and it involved cardboard boxes, tape and a whole heap of community spirit. Obviously. This was a big year for us – it marked ten years since our European Capital of Culture triumph and in true Liverpool style we went all out and curated a huge celebratory programme. Lost Castles was one of these events and would see communities join together to build replicas of castles or forts that once stood proudly in their areas. It was a joy to work on – each day the structures were in situ, the crowds grew and grew, and not just watching these cardboard boxes transform into recognisable buildings in front of their eyes, but getting involved – taping and stacking boxes, shrieking with delight as some collapsed and cheering as they grew taller and taller. Quite simply it was fun. And even though within hours of those creations toppling and there was no visible evidence they ever existed, the impact on the communities continued and five years on, I still get people talking to me to this day about the day they helped build a castle!

There are some projects you work on that you know will translate in other parts of the region, and hot on the heels of Lost Castles, Culture Liverpool produced Constellations which saw local artists create large-scale light installations, inspired by a specific constellation and its relationship to local stories. It was a month-long project which celebrated local identity, shining a spotlight on six very different parts of our region, yet at the same time showing how connected we are.

From cardboard and light, we come to bamboo. Imagine Bamboo is Everywhere will see intricate, creations by local artists including windmills, giant butterflies, bikes, bridges and other impressive pieces, all made out of bamboo grown at Ness Gardens.  It sends an important sustainability message, but it is also yet another opportunity for people to come together and connect over culture. Not only will it be visually stunning, but once again we want people to get involved with workshops and really feel engaged with what is being delivered in their areas.

We want to get to the point where every single person who lives and works in this region takes for granted (in the best sense) that beautifully curated, free cultural projects will be taking place on their doorstep at some point during the year. And by achieving this we can be the cultural heartbeat of not only the North West, but of the UK.

Claire McColgan, CBE

Director Culture Liverpool

Imagine Bamboo Dates

Saturday 5 August.

Newton Show, Mesnes Park, Newton le Willows, St Helens

This event has taken place.

Sunday 6 August, 11am – 5pm: FREE

Knowsley Flower Show, Courthey Park, Knowsley

Free for all pedestrians & cyclists, £5 all-day parking on-site for cars

This event has taken place.

Saturday 12 August, 12pm – 4pm: FREE

EcoFest, Victoria Park, Widnes, Halton

Saturday 19 August, 11am – 4pm: FREE

Wirral Country Park, Thurstaston, Wirral

Sunday 20 August, 11am – 4pm: FREE

Great George Square, Nelson Street, Liverpool

Saturday 26 August, 11am – 4pm: FREE

Kings Gardens, Southport, Sefton

For more information, head to the Culture Liverpool website.

Liverpool Waterfront