The Lighthouse Invites the Storm: Malcolm Lowry's Wirral

Alan Dunn, Martin Heslop & Jeff Young in collaboration with Mariners' Park.

To mark the seventieth anniversary of Malcolm Lowry's seminal novel Under the Volcano, this exhibition and performance programme reconnects Lowry with his New Brighton birthplace. Working with retired seafarers from the Wirral and sound artists from Yorkshire and Mexico, where Lowry lived for some years and which gave him the setting for his great novel, Dunn, Heslop & Young re-imagine New Brighton's nautical landmarks with a series of musical stormscapes and lyrical poems all driven by Mersey tides.

Press release with biographies


Monday 17 - Sunday 30 July
The Black Dogs, ten-part posterwork by Alan Dunn, Wirral Line Escalator, Lime Street Station, Liverpool.

From Monday 17 July
DOLENTE ... DOLORE The Inferno of Malcolm Lowry, a free mix by Phil Legard in collaboration with Balam Ronan and Alan Dunn. Clicking here will take you to Phil's Bandcamp page where you can download the music, artwork and liner notes for free.

Wednesday 19 July
Lowry, edition of 25,000 x A5 printed artworks by Alan Dunn, distributed in the free Wirral Globe newspaper.

Wednesday 26 July
2.30 - 4.00pm, The Leaving of Liverpool, open afternoon, Trinity House Hub, Mariners' Park, Royden Avenue, Wallasey CH45 7PH, programmed by Roger Cliffe-Thompson with content courtesy of National Museums Liverpool (Liverpool Maritime Museum); an opportunity to meet retired seafarers and see displays and artefacts, no booking required.

Friday 28 July
9.30am - 5.45pm Under the Volcano, 70 Years On, Lowry conference, Liverpool John Moores University, programmed by Helen Tookey, details of cost and booking here.

2.30 - 4.00pm, The Leaving of Liverpool, as above.

8.30 - 10.00pm, The Lighthouse Invites the Storm (electric), performed by Jeff Young, Martin Heslop, Vidar Norheim, Mersey Wylie and Jack Roberts, Bluecoat Performance Space, free to the public, numbers limited, book via Bluecoat here.

Video and images below by Brian Roberts.

Saturday 29 July
9.30am - 5.45pm Under the Volcano, 70 Years On, as above.

2.30 - 4.00pm, The Leaving of Liverpool, as above.

7.00 - 9.00pm, The Lighthouse Invites the Storm (acoustic), Mariners' Park, free to public, numbers limited, book via Bluecoat here.

Video below by Tim Brunsden, images by Leila Romaya.

Damon Fairclough in Northern Soul, 10.7.2017.
John Coulthart in Feuilleton, 23.7.2017.


In 2009, Bluecoat's Artistic Director Bryan Biggs and a group of fellow enthusiasts got together to curate an exhibition and programme of public events to celebrate the centenary of Wirral-born novelist Malcolm Lowry. Out of that came the book Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World, co-edited by Bryan and poet Helen Tookey, and since then Bluecoat has hosted an annual Lowry Lounge celebrating all things Lowry, aiming to reinstate him as a Merseyside writer and also as a continuing inspiration to writers and artists.

Commissioned by Bluecoat and John Moores University, Dunn, Heslop and Young begin by spending time in and around New Brighton, at the New Palace and Fort Perch Rock, absorbing the areas of Lowry's youth: "the story is that he was driven by his parents in the family limo to Liverpool Docks at the age of nineteen to set sail and see the world before going to University. To better understand what it is like to leave Liverpool by sea at a young age, we spend time with retired seafarers at Mariners' Park, listening to tales as vivid as Lowry's writing."

Lowry's novel Under the Volcano (1947) recounts the last 24 hours in the life of alcoholic British consul Geoffrey Firmin in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac on the Day of the Dead in 1938. "The novel has a dense hyper-real quality and through the drunken haze we see glimpses of carnivals, love letters, memory loss and black dogs. We have brought those into the mix, along with some of the Mariners' adventures.

As artists, we are interested in giving voice to those without, through projects such as tenantspin, RAY + JULIE, FOUR WORDS, Frank Cavanagh & the A552 HEX and SuperBlock. Malcolm Lowry, despite Under the Volcano being listed in The Modern Library 100 Best Novels, remains for many another unheard voice."


Artists: Alan Dunn, Martin Heslop and Jeff Young. Thanks to Vidar Norheim, Mersey Wylie and Jack Roberts (performers), Helen Tookey (Liverpool John Moores University), Bryan Biggs, Rachel Goodsall and Robert Hack (Bluecoat), Leila Romaya and Tim Brunsden (documentation), Michael Holiday (Wirral Globe/ZOOM-IN Leaflets), Adam Webster, Kristen Clarke, Yoanna Topolova and particularly Antony Ursell (Exterion Media), Naomi Horlock (evaluation), Ian Murphy (National Museums Liverpool / Liverpool Maritime Museum), Balam Ronan (sound recordings of the Day of the Dead), Phil Legard (musician), Hannah Preston (One Stop Promotions), Damon Fairclough (Copywriter), Jill Heslop (PR), Roger Cliffe-Thompson (Events Manager), Mick Howarth (Nautilus Welfare Services Manager) and all at Mariners' Park, especially Rob Keith, Jim Birt, Lenny Turner, Peter Andrews and Barney Kearns.


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