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Topophobia – The Bluecoat Liverpool

An interesting exhibition coming to The Bluecoat in March, Topophobia, the fear of place.

As a long time sufferer of anxiety I have a personal interest in this. It is a study of the irrational dread of certain places and situations. Ten artists study this phenomenon through painting, drawing, video, photography, sculpture, sound and installation. Why do certain situations and places induce anxiety?

Looks intriguing and I will be dropping in as part of my usual Saturday morning routine drinking coffee at the Bluecoat. You’ll spot me straight away, I’ll be the one looking worried!!

Topophobia runs from Saturday 3rd March until Sunday 22nd April, from 10-00am daily. admission free.

But is it art…..?

In my case, no.

Hello!  Going to tell you about Dr. Sketchy art classes at the Bluecoat.

This alternative life drawing class has only just come to Liverpool, having been established yonks ago in New York. It mixes a bit of burlesque cabaret with boozing, drawing competitions and a bit of retail therapy in the form of some stalls selling amongst other things, extravagantly themed nipple tassels (cats faces, anyone?) and vintage style trinkets. Quite an overwhelmingly comprehensive evening for those looking for something a bit different to do-and speaking as a wannabe prude, I’m pleased to report only harmless levels of smuttiness-more of a suggestion really. Read on…

This evening was hosted by the lovely Miss Diva Hollywood (of course!) who was resplendent (and roasting, I’ll guess) in a PVC prom dress. Already I was beginning to see the parallels between burlesque and drag, in the nicest possible way, which is essentially over the top glamour with a comedy element. Despite the whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ from the audience, it was all a bit tongue in cheek as you’d frankly see more at the beach I’d say.

What kind of folk did it attract, Kristal? I hear you ask. Well, bit of a mixed bag really-equal girls and boys – mostly friends who’d come together to mock each other’s artisic skills and drink wine. Then of course lots of ‘proper’ artists with massive sketch pads and more serious expressions.

The evening was in three parts-in each part: a burlesque performance from one of the three guest performers in attendance, after which they would pose for us to draw them (for five, ten or twenty minutes,  to a soundtrack of Calypso music or Serge Gainsbourg tunes which seemed fitting) and then a competition at the end where we would all hold our drawings up for the model to judge and win prizes.

The burlesque performances ranged, as they say, from the sublime to the ridiculous:

Parma Violet, a diminutive yet curvy lady, came on dressed as a bearded gnome and then stripped down to her bejewelled undies. That was weird.

Missy Malone performed the more traditional routine the likes of Dita Von Teese –She posed in various ways in a range of (un)dress including the kind of nurse you probably wouldn’t meet working in the Royal (forgive my slightly scary rendering, below-she’s meant to be snapping on a rubber glove there, not flicking the bird). Meanwhile in the background they played scenes from Carry On Matron just to drive the point home…

Velma Von BonBon who was dressed as Velma from Scooby Doo posed reclining nonchalantly whilst being tied up by a baddie (who I drew too big and didn’t have room for his head). Trust me, after a couple of hours the weirdness wears off and you just draw it.

So in summary, I had a lot of fun. It felt a bit long…three hours is a long time to concentrate for and I did emerge with the mother of all headaches.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure and to get an idea of what you’d be expected to draw, I’ve included a Tony Hart-style gallery of my etchings for you to stroke your chin at. And yes, I’ve not drawn in the hands or faces because like most people, I can’t do them. Don’t think I’ll be paying a visit to the picture framers any time soon. You can see what they’re meant to represent here…

Finally, they do occasionally get boys to pose at these things, in case you were wondering. Mr Sketchy is back on in Novemeber at the Bluecoat. Check the events page of their website for more info….


Visited Bluecoat today for a look around to see what was going on, it was a little oasis in a busy city. On a nice warm sunny day it was calm and relaxing and we enjoyed a nice coffee and shared a cream scone, very nice! reasonably priced too.  Lots more people relaxing in the courtyard .  The Universities are having ‘Open Days’  so lots of visitors about;  they couldn’t help but be impressed, the city centre looked good. Very cosmopolitan with sidewalk cafes full of people taking advantage of the warm weather .We have a good cross section of restaurants Spanish, Italian French just to mention a few, could be any where in Europe but it’s good to be in Liverpool with lots of choice.

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