Wednesday, 31 August 2016

#GGEvent - Dive - August 2016

girl gang event

Once upon a time there was a Dorkpork, and this Dorkpork wanted to fill her little corner of the internet with glitter, rainbow hair, watercolour prints, and a grand ol’ dose of support with a side of positivity. This one idea spiralled outta control, from a hashtag to a badge, a newsletter, a weekly chat, movie nights, patches, prints and everything in between. With 1000’s of members and still growing, our dear Dork decided it was time those virtual hugs became a reality and thus, the first ever Girl Gang meet was BORN.

And guess who got invited? 

Jemma has spent months organising her first every meetup and let me tell you, she did a fantastic job! Held in Dive in Manchester, it might have been raining outside but that wasn’t dampening our spirits inside! Dive was a fantastic space, they even curtained off a bar just fo the event, how VIP are we?

girl gang event

Carrie, our very own star baker brought a huge selection of amazing cupcakes along for everyone, including gluten and vegan options - each one with its own Girl Gang logo topper! The cakes were delicious, it was such a treat! 

Jemma had worked so hard putting this event together, getting amazing brands such as; Pinkster Gin, Patisserie Valerie, Paper Chic Co, House of Fraser, Utility and more involved, not only for our wonderful goodie bags but for raffle prizes too! Even though I had a fistful of tickets, I failed to win anything, this time around, but you can guarantee a huge cheer went up for each and every winner - the loudest when someone finally took home the Prosecco! 

girl gang event

The afternoon went by in a blur. It was amazing to see some old and familiar faces and meet dozens of new ones! It’s not always easy to get around to seeing everyone you’ve been talking to online at these events, it can get so chaotic and overwhelming, I mean sure, a couple of gins help, but it can still be a pretty crazy situation! 

girl gang event

Once the drinks and been drunk, the selfies taken, the raffle prizes given out, goodie bags galore and hugs a plenty, the event came to an end, by which time we had raised a whopping £350+ for Liverpool's Whitechapel, and managed to make Jemma cry just a little bit by having a quick whip round to help her finally get her phone fixed! It was the least we could all do to say thank you for everything she had done for us, not only on the day but for all the love and support she puts into the community on a daily basis! 

Afterwards, a whole bunch of us went in search of V Revolution, a little vegan cafe we proceeded to take over, then onto Turtle Bay, where we caused chaos again by rearranging the tables, and grabbed a couple of cocktails before finally, and unwillingly, saying goodbye to each other!

girl gang event

I’m not going to lie, it was an amazing day, I’m so so happy Jemma invited me along, I know how many people wanted to come on the day and couldn’t, but know this, the event was such a success that I’m pretty sure Jemma is probably, already, most definitely, going to do another one in the future!

girl gang event

Until next time, 

Friday, 26 August 2016

*Getting Funky with Funkin Cocktails

funkin cocktails review

I’m not gonna lie, I love me a good cocktail, and if I can have one or three on the couch in my pj's watching Netflix, I love them even more. Problem is, homemade ones can get faffy, and you can guarantee I’ll always be missing ingredients so when Funkin Cocktails decided to send me over a hamper of cocktail making mixer goodies, it was time to let the good times roll!

Funkin Cocktail mixers come in a huge variety of flavours, from your more traditional  Strawberry Daiquiri, Woo Woo and Pina Colada, to a Passion Fruit Martini, Elderflower Collins and a Hollywood (which all sound like forms of bodily waxing now I think about it) and a few others in-between. They’re the perfect thing to have on hand when you end up with an impromptu gathering and want to serve something more exciting than beer. 

Ingredients, innovation and inspiration, that's the key to a Funkin good cocktail. Priding themselves on quality, 100% natural fruit juice, on it when it comes to the latest trends, and always open to new ideas, there's a whole lotta hard work that goes into these cocktails, and it certainly makes a difference!

When we went to Scotland a couple of weekends ago, I took a whole bunch of the Funkin Cocktail mixers along too, I mean you’ve got to keep it classy in the highlands - right? One thing I do love about these mixers is they’re not only alcohol-free, but they give you great serving suggestions on the side that include several different alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, meaning everyone has a choice depending on their preference. It also means I’m pretty much never missing an ingredient when I fancy a cheeky (or not so cheeky) cocktail. 

funkin cocktails review

Out of the range, I was sent to try, there were several clear winners from the multiple taste tests we had to do - hey, I’m nothing if not thorough!

Pina Colada was the first carton to be cracked open during the mid-week, and keeping it very school night we mixed it with some good ol’ pineapple juice and lots of ice. It was delicious, refreshing, creamy and didn’t feel like it was coating my teeth in 5 different layers of sugar, as some mixers do. 

Hollywood is a really sweet berry flavoured mixer that went great with gin after a long day of exploring Scotland, I mean come on, that view and this drink? Winning! 

Strawberry Daiquiri is not one of my favourite cocktails, I always find it sickly sweet but this mixer was actually really pleasant, to the point it surprised me. We mixed it with vodka and it went down a treat. Much nicer than I was expecting that’s for sure!

Elderflower Collins, because when it tells you to just add gin, you know I’m there. This one went down too easy! It’s amazingly refreshing, perfect to sip on in the sun, and genuinely tastes like one I’ve paid £8 for at a bar. 

To keep it varied, and for the love of my liver, I actually had quite a few of the mixers with their non-alcoholic suggestions and they tasted great! Perfect when you’re after a really nice juice drink, that’s a bit more exciting than a cranberry juice. I actually think they are perfect for picnics and trips out over the summer! 

funkin cocktails review

Keep that price in mind. Each carton makes 10 cocktails, and each carton comes in at around £4! You can guarantee I’ll be keeping Funkin Cocktails mixers on my bookcase-bar-cart and bringing them out to jazz up any and every gathering we have - and to fuel our Netflix sessions. 

What’s your Funkin of choice?

Until next time, 

Funkin Cocktails kindly provided me with a selection of cocktail mixers in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own :) For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

*#ShareTheLove with Carex

carex fun editions share the love

Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, but I feel like I need to be injecting more fun, more love, and less seriousness into my life in any given way possible - so if that means Swizzles sweet scented hand washes, Carex has got a girl covered with their newest scent-sational addition; Carex Love Hearts

As someone who lives in a Neverland in her head, but works in a laboratory by day, if there’s one thing you need to know about my job, it’s that I am constantly washing my hands - and this is no diss on the good ol’ NHS, but hospital soap is friggin horrid! Sure it kills off the germs and keeps my hands clean but it dries them out to the point of splits, pains, and constant shedding, not exactly a hand you want to use when you reach for your drink on the bar, is it? Not only do my hands smell great, but they feel great too, and with Carex killing 99.9% of germs, they're squeaky clean too!

carex fun editions share the love

I always keep a hand sanitizer in my lab coat, and we usually end up buying our own hand wash to look after our delicate and dainty digits but like I said, I want more fun in my life. Bubble Gum, Strawberry Laces, and now Love Hearts, all scents that take me back to the good ol’ days when I didn’t have to pay bills and deal with strangers bodily fluids on a daily basis. My Mum used to always take us to the sweet shop a couple of times a week after school, back when a 10p mix actually cost 10p, and I would always stock up on Love Hearts, Parma Violets, and Rainbow Drops! 

carex fun editions share the love

carex fun editions share the love

Do you remember when you’d get a pack of Love Hearts and hand them out to your friends? It was always a little tetchy, I mean, what if you gave I Love You to the wrong one? Or someone took Kiss Me the wrong way? Don’t even get me started on what went down if someone got I’m Yours! I don’t care how old I get, I still play this game every time I have a some, there’s just some things you don’t grow out of and scents are the easiest way of bringing back a memory! 

Injecting a little fun into your every day doesn’t have to cost the earth, it can be as simple as a fun and funky hand wash scent to perk you up, bring back happy memories and put a smile on your face as you go about your day!

carex fun editions share the love

What scents bring back good memories for you?

Until next time, 

Monday, 22 August 2016

LivHelps - Dough Bar - August 2016

livhelps blogger event liverpool

I’ve been to a fair few meet-ups, networking events and blogger gatherings over the years and I’ve got to say, my favourite kind of blogger events are the ones where things get a little loud, a little crazy, there’s some squealing, lots of selfie-taking and a bloody good ol’ chin wag, and this weekend at Livhelps was just that and more!

The Dough Bar played host once again to us blogging bunch, and I’ve got to hand it to the guys, they looked after us so well, kept up well fed and extremely well ‘watered’. The place itself is so comfortable, casual, great photo taking lighting and roomy enough for us all to mix and mingle. Being slap bang next to Lime Street station makes it super handy for those less than local bloggers and really easy to find - even I didn’t get lost!

livhelps blogger event liverpool

Sammy had put together such a fabulously chilled afternoon, which was all about old and new faces coming together, catching up on the latest blogging talk, swapping business cards, tips, tricks, and even a few cheeky PR e-mails. Hey! We bloggers like to look after our own! It was such a super chilled afternoon, I felt so at home amongst my fellow keyboard warriors. 

livhelps blogger event liverpool

I want to give a huge shout out to Alice, who I have been dying to see again after our brief encounter at NW Meet 2.0 a while back. I needed to hug her, congratulate her on her Bloggers Blog Award shortlisting and fangirl in general over her and how much I love her work! This girl is so bloody sweet and sincere and one after my own heart, as we instantly bonded over the need for food - stat!

livhelps blogger event liverpool

livhelps blogger event liverpool

I also got to have a really good ol’ chin wag with some of my favourite local crazies ladies; Antonia, Danielle, Sam, Liv, Leanne, Hannah and Helena, the riots and ruckus coming from our table probably would have got us kicked out anywhere else! Hanging out with Sammy and Katy was a ball as always, though I have no idea who thought sambuca was a good idea (I’m looking at you Katy!) And last, but certainly not least, all of the brand new faces I got to see! OK, some of them are not new new, as we’d passed at previous events, but I actually got to talk to them which is always so so nice, especially after having chatted on Twitter; Bex, Kayleigh, Lily Kate, Tasmin, and probably a whole bunch of names that escape me right now (apologies if I missed anyone!). 

If you haven’t been able to figure it out by now, what have you been doing other than reading my post eh? I had an amazing day, Sammy worked so hard putting the event together and she got some fabulous brands on board for both the raffle and the goody bags including; Red Letter Day, The Happiness Planner, Tropic Skincare, Bramley, Peridot, Love with Food, Portlebay, Beauticology, Make up Geek, Bee Good and more!

livhelps blogger event liverpool

So, let’s finish on massive thanks to Sammy and a massive thanks to the Dough Bar and a final hip hip hooray to the brands who got on board too! 

livhelps blogger event liverpool

Today, if you couldn’t tell, was bloody brilliant!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

*Breakout Liverpool - Classified and Wanted

breakout liverpool wanted classified

Escape rooms are the place to be this summer, but the question is, can you breakout? When I was younger I loved the Crystal Maze, and always used to imagine how I’d be the one to crack that final lock and lead our team to a confetti dome of victory - now, at Breakout Liverpool my fantasy skills were about to be put to the test…could we work together and break out? Could I breakout?

Breakout Liverpool has five escape rooms to choose from, and so far, I’ve tackled two. When Jemma invited me down to pop my escape room cherry, we opted for the Classified themed room. Acting as secret agents on our final mission to prove our worth as the next 007, Jemma, Gary, Hollie and I teamed together, literally tore the room apart in fits of giggles, rage, confusion, frustration and sheer dumb luck all to the sound of the James Bond theme tune (which I bet is now stuck in your head! Your welcome!). 60 minutes on the clock, we had to find seven clues, put them in order, do the maths and use the answer to unlock the door and escape. 

breakout liverpool wanted classified

From start to finish we couldn’t stop laughing. The room itself didn’t look that complicated when we first walked in, but after being told people had literally got on each other's shoulders and tried to crawl into the ceiling space to get out, we knew there was more to it than meets the eye. Combination locks, lasers, hidden codes, secret messages, you name it, we had to crack it. 

With a difficulty rating of 4/5, we broke out in 50 minutes! Our team was kick ass. Jemma tore the place apart, Holly was like a real life Harriet the spy and I’ve got to hand it to Gary, he was the brains of the operation, and he looked damn fine in that suit we happened to find!

breakout liverpool wanted classified

Another week, another room, another challenge. When I headed for a pre-drinks escape challenge with the Mr and our friends, we went for the Wanted room. This room has two options; cowboys or Indians? Cowboys is the easier of the two so our games master told us, so we went for the challenge that was the Indian side, which started with having to actually lock two of our players in a jail cell. 

Wanted actually consists of two rooms, and you have to breakout of both in order to escape and complete the challenge! It took us close to half an hour just to get out of the first room, so yeah, you could say things weren’t going so well. Riddles, locks, dominoes, pegs and bullet holes are just a few of the challenges that left us stumped, and as the clock ticked down, we started to regret our we can do this show-off attitude we’d arrived with! 

With a difficulty rating of 5/5, we didn't breakout! Our games master came back into the room and talked us through the final 3 puzzles we had to solve in order to get out and we could not stop kicking ourselves! Everything suddenly seemed so obvious!

Shoutout here to the games masters, on both occasions these guys and gals were full of energy and enthusiasm! Honestly, I would love to try their job for a day, they get to sit there watching people try and escape the rooms. See, each room has several cameras, and if you’re looking a little stumped, or on your knees begging for help, they can send you clues to try and help you out. Some of the sights they must see! It must be hilarious!

breakout liverpool wanted classified

5 tips for Breakout Liverpool

  • Tip, touch and flip everything, you never know where you might find a clue!
  • Everything has a purpose, no matter how random it might look!
  • If in doubt, go over everything again. No matter how many times you’ve searched that shelf, give it another feel!
  • Read everything about 10 times.
  • Laugh. Because if you don’t, you might just cry!

Easily two of the funnest hours I’ve had in Liverpool. It was the perfect way to catch up with some faces I haven’t seen for a while and a hilarious way to start a night out! Nearly all of the rooms are family friendly, with a variety of puzzles that keep you thinking long after you’ve escaped! 

Ok, maybe there’s no confetti filled dome at the end, and maybe I’m just a little bit shite at these kinds of things, but I had the best time and I’m already trying to find a time to go back and check out another room! With all 5 being completely different themes and puzzles, it’ll be a new challenge every time!

Do you think you could breakout?

Until next time, 

Breakout Liverpool kindly provided me with the games exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own :) For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Monday, 15 August 2016

*Blookup - Turn your blog into a book!

turn your blog into a book with blookup

Have you ever thought about turning your blog into a book?

What happens to your blog post after you hit publish? Sure, you’ll go promote your blog post across social media, maybe you’ll add it to a link up, share it with friends and all that jazz. But as each new post comes along, older posts get pushed to the back of the blog draw. You might pull one out of the hat to promote from the archives every now and again, maybe link back to an older post in a more recent one, but how often do you ever go back to them?

I have some posts on this blog that I seriously love, most of which surround events, meetings, and opportunities I’ve had all thanks to blogging, and even though they’re some of my favourite posts, I hardly ever go back to re-read them. That’s where Blookup comes in. When you think about it, it’s a really simple idea, turning your blog posts into a book, so why has it took this long for someone to come up with it?

Blookup has a ridiculously even-my-mum-could-do-it system that simply takes your blog posts or Instagram pictures and allows you to select, organise and create an actual, physical, show it off on the coffee table book. A BOOK. With your name on the front. Why keep your kick-ass blog posts constrained to the digital world when you can show them off physically, in a glossy, professional looking, could-sneak-it-onto-the-shelf-in-Waterstones book?

turn your blog into a book with blookup

The process couldn’t be simpler. It took me around 30 minutes to create my very first *Blook - and that’s only because I was ridiculously indecisive about everything, from title colours to page layout, cover design and blurb, I kept going back and changing my mind. In the end, I had a very glossy turquoise bound 220-page book, a collection of some of my favourite blog posts from January 2015 - June 2016. And that’s when it hit me. 


OK, this idea has already hit Blookup, but still, I felt pretty genius for a second or two. Imagine if you collected all of your recipe blog posts, or your blogging tips, maybe your travel posts, or everything you’ve ever written about fashion? Or all of your marble backdrop cat-shots? Put them all together into a Blook and…dare I say…sell it? Blookup allows you to do just that. You can actually sell your collected works through their site, from books of blog posts to collections of Instagram shots, you can actually become a printed, published author. That's friggin fan-cee-pants right there. OR, you could just pass it to your Mum and let her show off all your hard work to her friends. 

The quality of the finish is gorgeous, everything is printed clear, pictures are sharp, the paper is glossy with no bleed through, and there is even an index in the back. You also have the option of writing an author bio and a dedication for the front page. As I’m thinking of making this a yearly project, I chose to write the dates of which the following posts went live. I think it’s a really great way to look back on your blogging adventure! Every blook also comes with a free e-book version, j

5 blogs I would love to see as Blooks;

  • Corinne - With a down to earth, kick ass approach to blogging, Corinne has put together some really informative, makes-all-kinds-of-sense blogging related posts that would make a fantastic blook collection. 
  • Anca - This girl is seemingly travelling the length and breadth of the UK, and I love reading her posts on her most recent days out, it would make an awesome blook collection for a B&B’s coffee table.
  • Jemma - Let’s face it, it would be the pinkest, craftiest, scousest little blook of happiness you could ever put together.
  • Danielle - Her photography is gorgeous, I love her nature and Disney related shoots, now if that’s not a coffee table blook, I don’t know what is! Her work always inspires me to get out there and play with my camera more!
  • Lauren - Be it her lifestyle posts or her photography, either or would make an amazing blook collection. Her lifestyle posts always give me a gentle kick up the ass to get out of a funk and get going!
turn your blog into a book with blookup

If I haven’t managed to completely sway you into turning your favourite blog posts into a blook, then here’s the icing on the cake, a wonderful little penny-saving discount code for Blookup that will get you a very lovely 10% off your order: SALOCABLOOK

What kind of Blook would you create?

Until next time, 

BlookUp kindly provided me with a discount on my own Blook in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are 110% my own :) For more information, see my disclaimer here.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Oransay Cottage - Loch Linnhe

When you need to get away but you can’t quite leave the country, what’s the furthest you can get away from the daily grind? This year, the Mr, his family and I all took a quick escape to the country, heading way up North to Loch Linnhe to not only escape the day to day, the dishwashing and the incessant squark of the seagulls still nesting on my windowsill *curses*. Oh, it also happened to be the Mr’s big 3-0 that weekend too, so two birds, one stone, all that jazz with a gin and tonic on the side. 

Loch Linnhe is one gorgeous place, all rolling hills, green, green, green all around, and silent. So friggin quiet, the only noise getting made was us lot trying to start BBQ’s and keep the dogs out of the water! We stayed in Oransay Cottage, an adorable little place, one of 4 Springwell Holidays cottages situated up off the main road on a hill, overlooking everything Loch Linnhe has to offer. Oransay was one of the dog-friendly cottages, that sleeps up to 8, with two double rooms, one with en-suite, two twin rooms, bathroom and separate WC. The kitchen and living space where super roomy and super comfortable. We had enough parking for 3 cars, and there was a cute little swing set just to the side of the cottage, what? These things are important and very Instagrammable!

The bedrooms are huge, comfortable and ours at the front had an amazing view of the Loch that was breathtaking to wake-up to every morning. I swear, I don’t usually sleep in new places but it was so quiet and dark that I was zonked as soon as my head hit the pillow - then again all the fresh air and walking could have had something to do with that too. 

Oransay Cottage was a perfect base for a long weekend of exploring the highlands. 20 minutes outside of Fort William, 40 minutes from the Ben Nevis Range, and just under 3 hours to Edinburgh, it was an ideal starting point whatever you fancied doing. And if you fancied doing a little of nothing? It was the perfect place to chill too.

Just across the road was a secluded little spot that we made much use of. Down a set of steps, into the trees, there was a great little clearing with a BBQ and picnic table, with two more paths to follow; one leading down to the shingle beach, the other to a very romantic, picturesque ledge that I must have drunk several glasses of Prosecco on and did the whole life pondering-ness you do when you’ve got a pretty view and are a little tipsy.

I couldn’t fault anything about our stay and am already looking for an excuse to go back. The cottage was spotless, well looked after, and just perfect, exactly what we all needed. Oh, and the wi-fi wasn’t too bad either, just incase you need to stay connected, or play Pokemon Go. 

What does your perfect escape look like?

Monday, 8 August 2016

Things I forgot to take to Scotland

what to pack for scotland

I’m all for packing as light as possible, but sometimes it ends up being a really stupid idea. Last weekend I found myself in Scotland, a place I’ve been wanting to visit for years. It was an amazing trip, but thanks to my ‘oh-so-clever-look-at-my-minimalist-packing’ ways, there was a couple of things I ended up forgetting that really would have come in handy!

Here’s a quick rundown of the things I should have packed for Scotland.

Bug Spray.

Wee beasties! Wee beasties everywhere. From about 6pm, unless you got up close and personal with a fire, it was impossible to be outside. I hadn’t thought about bug season in Scotland (June-Sept) so never thought about taking some insect repellent. Whenever I stepped outside, it was as if I had been wrapped in a wriggling, biting, scratching mother-effing blanket of doom. DOOM. Even in two pairs of socks and skin tight jeans, the little buggers got in and bit my legs and ankles to death. 

Bug bite treatment

After the bites comes the night long scratch-a-thon. I was rubbing my leg up against the bed post trying to sooth the itch, thinking if I didn’t use my nails at least I wouldn’t end up shredding my skin and bleeding all over the place. Nothing soothed the bites, and the ones on my ankles were the worst! I never usually get bit, clearly, I wasn’t drinking enough gin to put them off having a good ol’ munch on me! 

A smaller portable charger

I have a great big brick of a portable charger that I picked up off Amazon a while ago. It gives me over 8 full phone recharges and is a bloggers best friend when it comes to events and travelling. But, it’s big. It’s heavy. it doesn’t exactly fit in an evening bag or even your jeans pocket. So to charge, you’ve got to have some space for it, preferably a table or a big bag. It was ideal for the drive to and from Scotland, but having to take it out everyday, and try and get a quick charge whilst wandering the Nevis Range, it wasn’t exactly convenient, just cumbersome. 


Yes. Bloody YES. We actually got real sunshine in Scotland. To the point where we could sit outside on the grass, no layers on, and actually catch some rays. I never thought that was going to happen so it didn’t even dawn on me to take along some SPF. Stupid Sarah. Somehow, I’m calling it dumb luck, I actually didn’t burn, but I should have. Note taken, wherever, whenever, sunscreen and I will always be together. 

A Fleece

Ok, Yes, we had sunshine, but it wasn’t everyday, and the thought of hitting up the Ben Nevis range with nothing but a waterproof to keep the chill at bay wasn’t doing it for me. I managed to pick up a Trespass close to body fitting fleece in a little shop that was having a huge sale as we wandered around Fort William and blimey was I thankful for it! It’s one of those things that everyone should have, you might not use it often but it’s a must-have staple for any wardrobe!

But Sarah, isn’t all of this really obvious?
Yes. That’s the point.

It’s always the really obvious stuff you leave behind. 
I could have easily left the extra jeans, jumper, make-up I didn’t wear once, spare cleanser and half a pack of cotton pads behind in favour of more essential items that would have come in a hell of a lot handier!

What are some of the most obvious things you always end up leaving behind?

Until next time,

Friday, 5 August 2016

Liverpool Biennial 2016 with Cass Art

liverpool biennial review

2016 is the year for the ninth Liverpool Biennial Exhibition. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the past exhibits but after an enlightening tour of the city with Cass Art, well, let’s just say there’s a whole lotta art going on in my own backyard and I can’t believe I’ve been missing it!

The Liverpool Biennial is a 14-week long exhibition of art across all platforms, from performances, films, talks, family events and installations that are housed outside of where you might normally expect to see art. For me, the whole point of the Biennial exhibits is to make art accessible, to push the boundaries of what you think art is, to introduce it to kids and adults alike in new, and interesting ways. Public spaces, unused buildings, galleries, museums, a Chinese supermarket a trio of in-use public busses, an old reservoir, and even a few apps on your phone. Practically everywhere you look across the city, there’s a part of the Biennial waiting to be discovered. 

This year's exhibition is looking at 6 episodes that repeat, intertwine, ignite the imagination and question everything. Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s, Monuments of the Future, Flashback and Software. Each episode tells its own story, with specially commissioned pieces, some pop up across a couple, or even all, episodes, some are limited to just one, but there is something to explore for everyone. 

Cass Art invited me along for the day to take part in a guided walking tour of the city, taking an in-depth look into several of the pieces and installations, and who was I to say no? We met at the Cass Art store in town, and after greetings, networking and an introduction from Julie Lomax, the Biennials Director of Development, we set off with our amazing tour guide, Gabby leading the way. 

liverpool biennial review

We started at the Bluecoat, with Dennis McNulty’s Homo Gestalt:The Time Domain, a fascinating installation that looks at a collective biological or mechanical decision-making entity. There is also a corresponding phone app. In the room next door, you’ll see a partnership exhibition of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries which I found really fascinating! 

liverpool biennial review

liverpool biennial review

Next, up, we wandered down to one of my favourite haunts in Liverpool, The FACT, ( the foundation of art and creative technology). Gabby was unbelievably excited about the Krzysztof Wodiczko Homeless Vehicle Project and her excitement was infectious! There’s something so nice to listen to someone with a genuine passion for what they’re talking about and sharing, it’s as if they are sharing a literal piece of themselves with you! The project was inspired and worked on by the homeless community of New York (1988-89), where they created tools to aid in their survival and communication on the streets. 

liverpool biennial review

Then, things started to get a little less ordinary. Take a minute for me, just sit right there, and think about art. What’s the first thing that pops into your head? A painting? A sculpture? Ok, now take that piece, and tell me, where is it? A gallery? No, a museum? Now, take that idea and chuck it out the bloody window. Because I bet you weren’t expecting the next stop on our tour to be the Hondo Chinese Supermarket, where you? I certainly wasn’t.

The supermarket is a real life, has-been-here-for-years supermarket, was here before and will be here after supermarket. You can genuinely go in and pick up your sundries and bottles of iced green tea, and experience the Biennial. Up on the shelf, next to bulk buy take away cartons and the stores own security feed, you’ll find Ian Cheng’s Something Thinking of You. The live video feed examines the idea that technology is reaching the point where it can think and make it’s own decisions, and this installation does just that! The video feed is exploring, learning, and in doing so, creating its own environment.

liverpool biennial review

Not far from the Hondo Supermarket, you’ll find one of Liverpool's iconic cathedrals, but we’re not interested in that today, no, we’re heading behind what are usually locked gates, into a nineteenth-century former chapel that is, ordinarily, closed off to the public. The Oratory is one of those buildings that I’ve always looked at and wondered about, so the chance to go inside was one I couldn’t pass up. Opened up especially for this year's Biennial, Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s Rubber Coated Steel is a fascinating audio-visual piece inspired by one of the cases he, as a forensic audio analyst, was asked to work on. There are also several memorials and neoclassical sculptures to see that would ordinarily be kept behind closed doors. The space is fascinating and I could have easily spent hours in here just taking pictures and taking in it’s eerie, almost forbidden, atmosphere. 

liverpool biennial review

We then detoured for a stroll through St James’ Gardens, which took us to our next, and final stop of the tour, Cains Brewery. For me, the use of the space in Cains really does bring all episodes of this year's Biennial together, in a swirling, colliding mass of visions, ideas, and inspirations. It takes you on a journey through portals, transporting you from one episode to the next until you finally step inside the huge tented exhibition in the centre, Andreas Angelidakis’s Collider, which merges all of the episodes, culminating in what was, for our tour at least, a grand finale!

The space is full of pieces, but what stood out most to me was the Children's episode piece, at the heart of the Collider. Dogsy ma Bone by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, who has been working with 34 children and 44 teens from across Liverpool to create the film, which over the Biennial opening weekend, was performed live! The kids are fantastic, the film is funny and engaging but, and here’s what really got me, is that children, the next generation, where at the heart of the Collider, the heart of the exhibition and, the heart of this year's Biennial. Throughout the 14 week showcase, there are dozens of family friendly, kid orientated workshops, getting kids involved, hands on, with art in a way that it’s not taught in schools.

As someone with a creative education background (now don’t that sound fan-cee-pants?), I know that when it comes to cuts, the arts are the first to go and the last to be funded. An emphasis in schools is put on the more academic subjects, maths, science etc, with little to no creative play as kids get older. But kids need creativity, they need a new, fresh, not so black and white but more of a rainbow area in the middle way to look at the world. I remember when I was in school, I wasn’t exactly taught to think outside of the box, after all, that wasn’t going to help us rank higher when it came to GCSE results and Ofsted reports now, was it?

liverpool biennial review

But of course, the Biennial, like all art, is open to interpretation, so maybe you won’t see it how I do, but that’s the beauty of it. The mixture of creative pieces, performances, and visual displays will mean something different to every pair of eyes that look at it, every set of ears will hear something different and every step you take through the Biennial, nobody else will walk through the city the way you have, it’s a world of your own, to create and enjoy as you wish!

And this was just a snippet of what this year's Biennial has to offer, with dozens of more exhibits stretched far and wide across the city, you better get your walking boots on a bring a snack! 

What comes to mind when you think of contemporary art?

Until next time,