WCAF is back – the full programme

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (WCAF) is back for its 12th year with a packed and eclectic programme of events, spanning almost two months.

Launching in October, the multi-venue festival is delivered by Culture Warrington and welcomes artists of every discipline for a range of boundary-pushing showcases and performances. The theme for 2022 is ‘Connections’ with WCAF celebrating its role in collaborating and creating opportunities for creatives in the area.

This year’s festival will also see the return of the Open Exhibition – a competition that provides a springboard for emerging artists – after the pandemic and the introduction of a ‘Fringe Festival’ in partnership with Warrington and Vale Royal College.

Other firsts include a ‘Scratch Night’, which will give north west creatives the exciting chance to share works in progress for peer review and audience feedback, and an abstract fashion illustration workshop led by Warrington’s own Tony Green, who has designed items for luxury brands worldwide and has had his illustrations featured in Vogue.

It is one of two fashion events in addition to Table Manners, a quirky sustainable fashion show taking place at the picturesque Parr’s Bank.

There will also be a focus on live music at WCAF 2022. Highlights include acclaimed Liverpool art pop trio Stealing Sheep and fellow Liverpool-based songwriter Sara Wolff, as heard on BBC Radio 6, who will both be performing in the unconventional setting of Warrington Museum.

Meanwhile, festival organisers are looking forward to welcoming back Julia Griffin whose visceral installation and performance piece, I Used To Be, was one of the highlights of last year’s festival.

This time the dance artist is teaming up with James Colvin and Steve Sutton to present Trap, a haunting yet fascinating performance based around a metal cage and a moving sculpture made of tree limbs.

Organiser Leah Biddle, who is Cultural Manager at Culture Warrington, said: “The Contemporary Arts Festival is one of our biggest events of the year – bringing together some of the most talented people from Warrington and further afield.

“This year it is all about ‘Connections’ so we are celebrating and building upon the opportunities we continue to open up for people in the area.

“We’ve established an incredible network of creatives on our doorstep and, as much as we love breaking new ground with our performances and installations, I think it is the amazing partnerships we’ve established which will be the festival’s lasting legacy.

“It is a great pleasure to be able to provide a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and provide a launchpad for their future careers. In return they have helped us create a really vibrant and diverse festival and this year’s eight-week programme is no different. We can’t wait to share it with you.”

Below is the full line-up of WCAF 2021:

Sarah Harris: Time and Colour, Pyramid Arts Centre, 7 October until 15 January

Sarah Harris is a Warrington-born artist who primarily explores the themes of identity and belonging. She won Art Battle Manchester this year and other recent highlights have included the Blissed Out installation at New Art Spaces: Warrington and Story Lanterns: All These Latchford Souls which was commissioned by Culture Warrington for the Pop-up Museum and Library. In this exhibition, Time and Colour, Sarah will be using installation art and paintings to explore memory and how our mind takes ephemeral ‘snapshots’ over and over again to create an abstraction of colour and shapes. More info here.

Open Exhibition, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, 21 October to 12 February

The Open Exhibition is all about celebrating the talents of contemporary artists within 60 miles of Warrington. An incredible opportunity for emerging creatives, first prize includes a solo show at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery in 2023 with full support. Click here.

John McLeod: Pulled, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, 21 October to 22 January

From analogue to digital, paint to pixel, Liverpool to Manchester and the Isle of Skye to London, this new career-spanning creation from artist John McLeod (Open Exhibition winner 2019) encompasses architecture, club culture and event design, culminating in a site-specific installation in Warrington. More here.

Tony Green: Abstract Fashion Illustration Workshop, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, 27 October

Warrington’s own Tony Green made a name for himself working for the iconic Parisian fashion house Sonia Rykiel, where he created illustrations, collection designs, prints and research concepts for the company. He has since collaborated with a number of international luxury brands and designers such as Nathan Jenden / Dianne Von Furstenburg New York, Freepeople and Selfridges. His illustrations have been seen in the World of Interiors, British Vogue magazine and London Life magazines among others. At this playful and energetic workshop, Tony will look at different ways in which you can push the boundaries of the traditional methods of fashion illustration. Tickets can be booked here.

Identities, Pyramid, 28 and 29 October

Supported by Arts Council England, Culture Warrington and Prevent Breast Cancer, Rae Bell’s Identities is a play all about boobs! From bra fittings to breast cancer diagnosis, Lucy’s boobs tell her story in 60 minutes, the time it takes to perform a standard lumpectomy. Created through interviews with medical experts and those who have lived experience of breast cancer, the funny and moving story unclasps the hidden adventures our boobs go on, the good and the bad. Click here.

Stealing Sheep, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, 4 November

Stealing Sheep are an electro pop band from Liverpool who formed in 2010 and have built up something of a cult following. Their music blends eclectic influences from the early experimental electronica of pioneers such as Can, Kraftwerk and Delia Derbyshire through to contemporary artists such as Daft Punk, St Vincent, Drake and Little Dragon. Their three acclaimed albums, Into the Diamond Sun, Not Real and Big Wows – all released on iconic label Heavenly Recordings – highlight the band’s quest to break down barriers between genres, taking in everything from contemporary electro pop to British folk and psychedelia. With support from Vide0 and Seagoth. Tickets here.

Be.Spoke by All Things Considered Theatre – Working With Lived Experience, Pyramid Arts Centre, 4 November

All Things Considered Theatre has been creating work for nearly 10 years using material gathered from a range of real life stories. So their aim with this free workshop is to support writers, directors and actors in how to work with material that is drawn directly from someone’s personal experience. Further details here.

Be.Spoke by All Things Considered Theatre – Planning for Participation, Pyramid Arts Centre, 11 November

This workshops is for artists, makers and community practitioners exploring how to ensure both you and your community group or organisation get a meaningful, rich and valuable experience from participating on a range of different opportunities and how they can help enrich and inform your practice. Book here.

Pray for Mojo, Pyramid Basement Bar, 12 November

We’re delighted to once again be teaming up with artist and musician Christian Monaghan who brought his ‘Eaten Alive Illustrations’ work to Pyramid for an exhibition earlier this year. This time he is bringing his band, Pray for Mojo, to Pyramid Basement Bar. The common strand between Christian’s art and music is a psychedelic vibe (and love of The Simpsons). Merging influences from King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and Oh Sees to Goat and Queens of the Stone Age, the band have already made a name for themselves as a great live act. This is your chance to see them in an intimate setting after their recent sell-out headline show at Castle Manchester. With support from Serratone and Das Kunst. More here.

Trap, New Art Spaces Warrington, Sankey Street, 19 November

Trap is a unique and immersive experience featuring both a sculptural installation and a live performance. Combining the talents of artists James Colvin, Julia Griffin and Steve Sutton, it centres around a moving sculpture of tree limbs that creates an illuminated shadow landscape. Tangles of bunched branches are woven into a metal cage that conceal the choreography of a slowly moving body in this provocative exploration of humans and their relationship to the natural world and each other. More info here.

Warrington Contemporary Arts Fringe Festival, New Art Spaces Warrington, Sankey Street, 25 November to 4 December

Inspired by our ‘Connections’ theme, we have teamed up with students from Warrington and Vale Royal College. Our aim for the Fringe Festival is create a new and opportunity for undergraduates to showcase their work alongside the main festival programme, creating quality experiences for them to make, design and present work within a public space. It is hoped this will become an ongoing part of the WCAF programme. Curated by: Rebecca Rogers, Mia Cathcart and Sindy Richardson.

Sara Wolff, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, 25 November

Norwegian singer-songwriter Sara Wolff, who is now based in Liverpool, released her debut EP, When you Left the Room, in 2021. It is a collection of songs about fraying relationships and botched social interactions, recalling the off-kilter approach of the likes of Fiona Apple and Cate Le Bon. She has been supported on the airwaves by the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music, Amazing Radio and Radio Ireland. Tickets here.

Table Manners, The Parr’s Bank, Winwick Street, 26 November

Part fashion show, part dance performance, part mixed media art installation, Table Manners is all about being stylish and sustainable at the same time with items modelled by members of the community. It is a joint project by designer and maker Sophie New from Little Nell – the Stockton Heath studio tackling throwaway culture – and professional dancer Sarah Bateman. Click here.

Scratch Night, Pyramid Arts Centre, 1 December

This new platform will create an opportunity for creatives to share works in progress for peer review and audience feedback in a friendly environment. The Scratch Night will present work from a diverse range of artists and genres with the full programme to be announced in late October. Book tickets here.

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival’s main programme takes place between 7 October and 1 December. For more information or tickets visit wcaf.culturewarrington.org