Iconic statue returns to Liverpool after an 86 year hiatus

Jacob Epstein’s statue Genesis has returned to Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, 86 years after it was first displayed there.

The loan of the sculpture from The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester was made possible by a successful Crowdfunder campaign, which to date has raised a total of £5,386 – £386 over its original target of £5,000.

Genesis will be one of the key pieces in Bluecoat’s final exhibition of the year, In the Peaceful Dome, which opens with a special public preview from 6pm on Thursday 12 October. The exhibition is the finale in a programme of events that have taken place throughout 2017 to celebrate the building’s 300th anniversary.

A dramatic marble sculpture of a heavily pregnant woman, Genesis attracted considerable controversy when first exhibited, and it has an important place in Bluecoat’s history. 86 years ago, custodians of the building the Bluecoat Society of Arts struggled to finance its upkeep. Members of the Sandon Studios Society, the arts group at the centre of the building, suggested loaning Epstein’s sculpture as a means of generating income, as well as bringing a key work in British Modernism to a Liverpool audience.

As a result, Genesis arrived at Bluecoat in 1931 amidst great controversy and interest, attracting 49,687 people who each paid sixpence to see the sculpture. The exhibition generated over £1,000, a considerable sum at the time.

In the Peaceful Dome (Friday 13 October 2017 – Sunday 25 March 2018) takes the idea of Bluecoat as a continually evolving building – from charity school to the UK’s first arts centre – and looks afresh at the institution, some of the art it has presented and debates it has engaged with through the years.

The exhibition will trace threads that connect Bluecoat’s history with the present through a combination of new commissions, existing work – including significant loans from public and private collections – and archival material.

Bryan Biggs, Artistic Director at Bluecoat and the exhibition’s curator, said, “Genesis’ return to Bluecoat is really exciting. It’s a really significant part of our history and had such an impact in the city when first shown. Now displayed alongside a rich selection of works by artists of Epstein’s generation as well as new, emerging artists, we are confident that the sculpture will generate debate pertinent to our times.

“The contributions of our supporters via our Crowdfunder campaign have been absolutely vital in bringing the sculpture back to Liverpool, and providing a new generation of visitors with the chance to discover this artwork. We want to thank everyone who donated for their tremendous support. We look forward to welcoming them to the exhibition, and the finale of our 300th anniversary celebrations.”

The crowdfunding campaign will continue to run until 5.30pm on Monday 9th October, with all additional funds raised going towards family activities inspired by In the Peaceful Dome. 

For more info on the Bluecoat head to the website here.

Leave a Comment