5 great arts events on the Wirral this Autumn

Lady Lever Art Gallery

Lady Lever Art Gallery - Credit: Archant

A wealth of arts and cultural events are taking place this Autumn in the Wirral. Here are just a few to hopefully inspire your inner author, musician, artist or historian. Words by Rebekka O’Grady

Lady Lever Art Gallery

Throughout 2015, significant changes have been made to the Lady Lever Art Gallery’s ‘South End’ galleries. The development project, which covers more than a quarter of the grand building in Port Sunlight, will see new galleries redisplaying more than 1,500 objects - including the best collection of Wedgwood jasperware in the world. There will also be one of the finest collections of Chinese porcelain in Europe and outstanding 18th century paintings, furniture and sculpture.

To date, the changes that have taken place have been designed to sympathetically restore the galleries to their original architectural design and splendour. Original doorways have been opened up to reveal key thoroughfares, along with revealing the original double-height spaces with barrel vaulted ceilings and the installation of original parquet flooring.

There is a provision of new architectural lighting, which will highlight the building’s original features including the South End glass dome, and an installation of new glazed doors will provided picturesque views of the Wirral village. These spectacular fit out and object installation stages were to start in October, before the South End galleries reopen in the spring of next year.


Bridge Cottage, Port Sunlight

Port Sunlight Village Trust has just announced the purchase of Bridge Cottage, the former home of the creator of the Lever Brothers Empire, William Hesketh Lever. Trustees at PSVT, a charity responsible for conserving and promoting the industrial garden village of Port Sunlight, say that they have long held an ambition to own the cottage, which is one of the largest and most architecturally significant in the village, to share its rich history and heritage.

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Bridge Cottage is thought to have been built for Lever, who lived there on occasion between 1893 and 1900 while his primary residence in Thornton Hough was being renovated.

Maggie Sparks, chair of trustees at Port Sunlight Village Trust, said: ‘We are thrilled to have secured the purchase of Bridge Cottage. To turn it into a visitor experience will require careful consideration and significant investment. It is a large five bedroomed, grade II listed property, which has been altered, repaired and modernised over the last 122 years by subsequent occupants and caretakers.’

The building, which has been continuously occupied by someone of important standing within the village and factory communities since 1900, has also functioned during the First World War as a crèche for women working in the factory. In the Second World War, it suffered bomb damage after a land mine was dropped close by.

‘In the short-term, we have decided to open the cottage to visitors as a pilot project thanks to a small amount of grant funding from the Arts Council’s Sustainable Improvement Fund,’ said Paul Harris, chief executive at Port Sunlight Village Trust. He says they want village visitors and residents to help them decide how best to use and interpret the cottage, which has been free to visit since August.


Wirral Libraries’ Bookfest

‘An appearance by one of the UK’s most distinctive and legendary poets is a real achievement for Bookfest, which gets better every year, and illustrates the value of libraries to the cultural life of Wirral,’ said Cllr Chris Meaden, Wirral’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport. So who is this big name that is causing such a buzz in the run up to the week-long festival taking place in October?

It’s original Liverpool Poet Brian Patten. Along with Roger McGough and Adrian Henri, Brian made his name as one of the trio of poets who in 1967 published The Mersey Sound. Now credited as one of the most significant anthologies of the 20th century, the collection brought poetry to a new audience and has attained cult status.

Brian, who now lives in Devon, hasn’t read in Merseyside for a long time – so this is a real coup for organisers to have him as headliner at the annual festival that welcomes writers, poets, and historians for talks, drop-in sessions and book signings. He joins a prestigious list of names who have attended in the past, including former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Ian McMillan.

The Accessible Muse will be presented by Brian Patten on Wednesday October 14 at 7.30pm, in Bromborough Civic Hall. Tickets are £12.50 and are available from Bromborough, Wallasey, Birkenhead, Bebington and West Kirby libraries.

The Heswall Arts Festival

The Heswall Art Festival returns this year for a two week celebration of all things arts and culture. The annual free-entry event, which is run in conjunction with the Heswall District Business Association and the Rotary Clubs of Heswall, will take place in various venues around the Wirral town between September 26 and October 10.

‘The Festival is growing each year and is now attracting more performers from further afield,’ said Stephen Hough, patron of the festival and an acclaimed pianist. He has appeared with most of the major European and American orchestras and was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2001. ‘I think the London Klezmer Quartet workshops sound fascinating. I hope many of you will have a go at trying out this new skill.’

The Heswall-born musician, who is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and holds the International Chair of Piano Studies at the RNCM, is also looking forward to the Edwina Currie debate, ‘Jungle, Strictly and Politics’: ‘She is a wonderful communicator and I’m sure she will relish responding to your questions, however searching and challenging.’

From the ethnic music, culture and colours of Pagoda Arts and conceptual theatre from the Buxton Arts Festival Fringe performers, to crafts, poetry and the inaugural scarecrow trail, there’s something for everyone.

Visit www.heswallfestival.com for more information.

The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain

What started as a chance meeting in a graveyard in 1988 at Birkenhead Priory has developed into an international renowned festival spanning 27 years. The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain returns to the Wirral this November, with a jam-packed programme of events taking place across the month.

A celebration of the guitar, the festival features a range of concerts, workshops, exhibitions, lectures, recitals and master classes spanning genres from jazz, rock and blues to country, folk and classical. The majority of the events will be taking place at the Floral Pavilion Theatre, Plaza and Blue Lounge in New Brighton, as well as the The Queens Royal, New Brighton.

‘I am looking forward to the 27th International Guitar Festival of Great Britain to once again bring the cream of guitar players to Wirral,’ said Dave Tracey, director of The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, who has programmed as many styles of music as possible into the festival.

‘International artists such as Nils Lofgren, Rick Vito and Ricky Ross will play alongside Wirral based players Gary Murphy and Modjango. There truly is something for everyone at this year’s festival, which is the largest and oldest annual guitar festival in the world.’