Looking Back at 2021

In this blog we are taking a reflective look back, month by month at 2021 for dot-art.

We have continued to support over 125 local artists, produced 4 exhibitions since coming out of lockdown in April, sold hundreds of art works for people’s homes, worked with over 20 businesses across the North West, provided over 30 artist opportunities to our community, delivered over 25 art classes and installed 3 new temporary pieces of public art.

Last year the UK went into it’s third lockdown at the start of January.

It was difficult to go into a new year knowing the coronavirus was not going to be left in 2020. But we showed resilience and hosted a Private View on Zoom for The Liverpool Collection 2021 Exhibition, showcasing work by a large cross section of dot-art Members.

With our City Centre gallery still closed during the February period of Lockdown we returned back to online activity.

In February we put out an Open Call for artists, creatives and designers in the Liverpool City Region to celebrate dot-art’s 15th Birthday by designing a print illustrating what makes our region a landmark for creativity and culture! We selected 15 finalists to be showcased in our virtual exhibition dot-art 15.

In March we went live with a Zoom programme of classes, including Lino Cut, Landscape Painting and Drawing Techniques!

Posting out material kits to participants, our Artist Tutors delivered virtual courses and classes to help us cope through creativity during the third month of the third UK lockdown.

We also launched our TikTok channel with #dotart15challenge to show our artists at work from their homes or studio space and celebrate 15 years of dot-art.

Continuing to provide artist opportunities in the North West, at the end of March we launched our second Open Call for the Flag It Up Commission in partnership with Bruntwood Works.

In April, lockdown was lifted and we were able to open up our gallery space to the public again with a brand new exhibition by Madeleine Pires & Haylea Archer aptly titled ‘Out of the Darkness’

The exhibition explored the expression of life through art. Out of the Darkness created an experience that is personal yet part of a collective journey as we transcend the limitations of our thoughts through the medium of paint.

May saw the return of our in person creative courses and classes with COVID-19  measures in place, to welcome back participants and tutors safely into our city centre based partner venues for our spring and summer programme

We also launched our Heavy Gardening Project as part of LightNight 2021 – a trail of 7 artworks produced by Andrew Merrit to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change.

In addition to launching a new exhibition at the dot-art Gallery, In June we re-launched our exhibition space at Calderstones Mansion in partnership with The Reader. 

Art In The Mansion invites local artists to display and sell their work in the gallery space at the beautifully located Mansion House in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park.

Meanwhile back at our dot-art city centre gallery space we opened ‘Landscapes of The Imagination‘ a group show by dot-art Artist Members Simon Cooper, Natalie Gilmore, Carol Miller and Brigitte Watkinson.

In July we unveiled the fourth Liverpool Plinth on Liverpool Parish Church. “Jimmy” by artist Faith Bebbington celebrates the work horses that powered Liverpool’s and England’s historic waterways and can be viewed until July 2022.

Jimmy has a coat made of recycled plastic milk bottles with a steel, willow and wire inner framework. The sculpture is inspired by a previous commission by Faith Bebbington from the Canal and River Trust for Ellesmere Port National Waterways Museum.

‘Grasses, Trees, Flowers and Seas’ by artists Steve Bayley and Hilary Dron was a our exhibition that transitioned us from the end of summer to our autumn period. The series of paintings by Bayley & Dron looked at the beauty of the natural world around us.

August also brought about a new programme of courses with all of these being in person and a return to normality of dot-art Creative Courses prior to the pandemic. Our students were able to get back to a creative offer for them with on hand tutor support.

With our creative courses well underway across our partner venue spaces in the city, September also saw the announcement of a new partnership. INNSiDE by Melia Hotel was in the midst of opening a new hotel, meeting space, bar and restaurant on Old Hall Street and approached dot-art to provide an independent local array of artworks for guests and visitors to enjoy.

In addition to unique artworks by dot-art artists in guest bedrooms, we launched an exhibition space on the first floor of the hotel; beginning this new endeavour with “The Divine Feminine” by Kirsten Todd, an exhibition showing female portraits of inner strength and divine feminine energy.

The pandemic pressed paused on some of our activity and one of the things affected was the launch of our dot-art Darkroom in the Cotton Exchange building, but after restrictions lifted the Darkroom was back with a bang!

Opening its doors again to analogue enthusiasts, we programmed introductory courses for those returning to or discovering working with film. Proud to be the only public access darkroom in Liverpool, we once again launched our Darkroom Membership scheme for photographers to have unlimited access to a fully equipped darkroom on a monthly or annual payment basis.

In the month of November we hosted our first in person Private View in 18 months with The Liverpool Collection, featuring 17 dot-art Artist Members’ works celebrating Liverpool’s architecture, music icons and culture.

To ensure everyone was safe and well we asked all visitors to test for COVID-19 before gathering, many of us for the first time in over 2 years, back as a dot-art community of artists and supporters.

This Liverpool Collection was the first in our annual Christmas exhibitions to feature ceramic works and was curated by our new Gallery Manager Claire who joined the team in mid October.

Getting festive in December we kicked off the month with a late night Christmas shopping event with carols from the Liverpool BID choir, hot festive drinks and a gift guide for The Liverpool Collection, which saw us sell out of our popular baubles!

We also were finally able to celebrate “The Divine Feminine” Exhibition by Kirsten Todd at INNSiDE by Melia’s Old Hall Street Hotel with drinks and canapes as we undergo planning for future exhibitions on the dot-art first floor gallery space.

Later in the month as a new variant of coronavirus made it’s way around the world and cases rose in the UK, we reimplemented our COVID-19 safety measures and carried on delivering our services and projects.

As we look forward to 2022, and a once again uncertain COVID-19 backdrop, we are confident in the resilience and adaptability of our fantastic team and amazing artists.

We already have exciting plans in place for exhibitions in the dot-art Gallery, at INNSiDE, as part of Art in the Mansion AND a yet to be revealed new space! We will be working with partners including Liverpool City Council, Imagine Formby, Bruntwood Works and Liverpool BID to deliver art works in the public realm and look forward to continuing to offer art classes in our wonderful venues Bluecoat, FACT, The Reader and Baltic Creative. New projects will include a very exciting Artist in Residence scheme, the next phase of our Tree Stories project with Open Eye Gallery and many more to be announced.

We hope you will join us in our continued mission to help everyone enrich their lives through art!