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Liverpool Biennial

  • Date: 9 November 2009
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: North

Best known for presenting the UK's largest festival of contemporary visual art, Liverpool Biennial is among the most successful art commissioning agencies in the country.

Established in 1998 by James Moores, the Biennial has commissioned over 100 new works, many for the streets and public spaces of Liverpool, by established contemporary artists from around the world. The Arts Council has supported the Biennial with regular funding and National Lottery grants since its inception.

Made Up was the Biennial's 2008 international exhibition and its fifth manifestation. An exploration of the artistic imagination, Made Up included works featuring narrative, fantasy, myths, lies, prophesies, subversion, spectacle, which charted the ambiguous territory between real and unreal. It was a reaction to the pervasive documentary focus of much contemporary art, highlighting the emotional charge within artistic imagination and our fascination with and need for 'making things up'.

Consisting of around 40 new projects by leading and emerging international artists - principally new commissions alongside works previously unseen in the UK - Made Up was presented across multiple venues: Tate Liverpool, the Bluecoat, FACT and Open Eye, with half the exhibition sited in public spaces across the city.

The curators for Made Up were drawn from the Liverpool Biennial's partner venues and led by the Biennial director, Lewis Biggs. The works included: Ai Weiwei's spectacular Web of Light, a giant illuminated spider's web stretched across a city square; Richard Woods'  Innovation-Investment-Progress, an installation in a former paint shop; and Yayoi Kusama's stunning The Gleaming Lights of the Souls, one of three installations in a former industrial warehouse.

The 2008 exhibition also included Richard Wilson's Turning the Place Over, Wilson's most radical intervention into architecture to date, in which he literally turned a building in Liverpool's city centre inside out.