Contemporary art thrives in city’s Commercial District

Contemporary art will rub shoulders with business as two new commissions occupy some of the city’s busiest streets over the next three months as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016.

The contemporary art festival, which runs until 16 October, has worked with Commercial District BID and Exchange Flags to bring new artworks to the area.

Much like the Commercial District itself, the works take inspiration both from the historic and futuristic. Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Hummingbird Clock is a tree of binoculars in Derby Square resembling CCTV cameras, which are targeted on the Town Hall clock. By recording the second-by-second variations in the buzz made by the electrical grid, it brings into question the UK government’s use of this humming sound as a surveillance tool; a little-known technique made publicly available for the first time online (

At Exchange Flags, Sahej Rahal’s sculpture has travelled across time, appearing as ruins from a possible future, but situated in the present. It is part of an elaborate mythology inspired by local legends and science fiction, set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most striking areas.

The free festival of newly commissioned contemporary art from around the world takes place across the city’s public spaces, unused buildings, galleries and online until 16 October.

The Biennial is separated into six episodes, and both of these works form part of Monuments from the Future, where artists have been asked to imagine what Liverpool might look like in the future. Most of these are public realm artworks, with other highlights including Betty Woodman’s fountain at George’s Dock Ventilation Tower Plaza on the waterfront, Lara Favaretto’s Momentary Monument – The Stone on Rhiwlas Street in Liverpool 8, and three artist-designed Arriva buses weaving their way around the city on routes in North and South Liverpool and Wirral.

As well as playing a huge cultural role, the festival is forecast to provide an economic impact of more than £21 million to the city in 2016.

Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial, said:

“Our aim is for the Biennial to stretch across as much of the city as possible, so we were delighted to bring these works into the heart of the business community for the 2016 festival. The Commercial District has so many wonderful spaces, such as Exchange Flags and Derby Square, and is really interesting both architecturally and as a hub of corporate activity in Liverpool. These works ask some very relevant questions about the future of our city, and it’s great to see so many people engaging with them already.”

Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID Company said:

“Liverpool BID Company always enjoys working with Liverpool Biennial and we are delighted to see artists and artworks in the Commercial District this year which supports our wider strategies to animate and showcase the Commercial District.  This is just one element of a wider partnership we have with Liverpool Biennial which will see further collaborations in the future.”

Libby Witherden, Exchange Flags Marketing and Event Manager, said:

“We’re delighted to see the Biennial spread into the Commercial District this year, it’s great to see people exploring parts of the city they might not normally visit. Sahej Rahal’s sculpture has already provoked much conversation amongst tenants working at Exchange Flags and visitors to the area and has created quite a buzz on our social media channels.”

Liverpool Biennial 2016

9 July – 16 October 2016


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