Liverpool Biennial touring programme brings the work of international artist Betty Woodman to the Cooper Gallery

The Cooper Gallery is one of just two Yorkshire locations chosen to be part of a major new strategic touring programme by Liverpool Biennial.

Liverpool Biennial is the largest festival of contemporary art in the UK and launched its inaugural touring programme in March 2017. Six free exhibitions bring together artworks by leading international artists, all of which were commissioned and presented at Liverpool Biennial 2016. The exhibitions have toured venues in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire, with the Cooper Gallery being the penultimate stop.

The touring programme is supported with National Lottery funding through Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring fund.

Through the programme the Cooper Gallery will display the work of world-renowned ceramicist Betty Woodman.

The free exhibition, which opens in the Cooper Gallery on Saturday, 20 January, is a celebration of the international artist, who recently passed away aged 87. Woodman is admired by many for her pioneering practice that brought together painting and ceramics in an unprecedented way.

The Cooper Gallery is extremely proud to host a selection of the artist’s work. Her influence is evidenced by the fact that she was the first living female artist to be subject of a major retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Betty Woodman (b. 1930, Norwalk, Connecticut, USA, d. 2018) is known for her exuberantly painted ceramic vessels, which hover between sculpture and painting. Whilst her work references ceramics from many cultures and historical periods, she was not bound by tradition, but rather used it to explore relationships between structure, surface and colour. Woodman’s work is part of more than 50 public collections and has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at museums and galleries internationally.

As part of the exhibition visitors will have a unique opportunity to see a film created by Betty’s son, Charles Woodman. The inclusion of the 30-minute video in the exhibition is particularly poignant as it was a special request of the artist before she died.

The groundbreaking project enables galleries such as the Cooper Gallery to develop new audiences and build capacity within the partner organisations, collaborating together for the first time.

Cllr Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place said: “The Cooper Gallery is fast becoming a hub for modern art. As well as the stunning permanent collection people have the opportunity to see work by world class artists. We are delighted that work of Betty Woodman’s calibre will be on display. To see her work at such a poignant time is an opportunity which I am sure visitors won’t want to miss.”

Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial, said: “Taking the work of Liverpool Biennial to wider audiences is one of our top priorities. Over its last three cycles, the Biennial has broadened its reach to communities across the Liverpool city region, and extended its programming year-round. The Biennial touring programme is the next stage in our ambition to maximise the impact of working with international contemporary artists in communities across the North of England.”

Jessica Farmer, Senior Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, said: “We are delighted to be able to invest in Liverpool Biennial’s touring project through our Strategic Touring programme. It is a great example of how our funding can support organisations to work together to bring high quality art to more people and places. We particularly value the way in which this ambitious project will bring internationally-renowned, contemporary artworks to locations across the North of England. This partnership will not only increase the reach of the Liverpool Biennial programme but it will also develop skills within the touring venues, leaving a lasting legacy for the project partners and their audiences.”

For full exhibition details and the accompanying events programme, visit www.cooper-gallery.com. For more about the Liverpool Biennial touring programme, visit www.biennial.com/tour.