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See Liverpool RISE to Celebrate Extraordinary Women

This summer Liverpool will stage a series of remarkable events as part of the RISE programme for 2019. This progressive city will pay homage to extraordinary women from Liverpool and around the world to inspire, educate and empower others.

The visionary programme features a series of brand new artistic commissions, world-firsts, exhibitions and performances by leading female artists, thinkers and leaders, with the majority of activities being free to attend.

Next weekend (1-2 June) visitors to the city will have the chance to experience the world premiere of YOLART, a brand new commission for both RISE and River Festival where The Pier Head will serve as the perfect canvas for in-demand artist Jola Kudela. Yolart creates large-scale reinterpretations of classic paintings and traditional imagery and presents them as part of the urban landscape. By using members of local communities as the stars of the work, Yolart’s pieces carry huge emotional weight and are able to tackle challenging stories and themes in an engaging and accessible way.

Called ‘Reclaiming Babel,’ this new work is a celebration of the diversity of women living in Liverpool and aims to highlight the positive impact that shared experience and interaction can have in creating social cohesion and community.


Yolart has worked with groups from across Liverpool including Sola Arts, 20 Stories High Youth Theatre, Young Everyman Playhouse, Somali Woman’s Group, Liverpool Arabic Centre, Girls United at Harthill Youth Club, Everton in the Community Girls, Pagoda Arts, Splice and Drop in at Kuumba Imani Centre, in order to create a compelling representation of the modern experience of women in Liverpool.

She sees Liverpool as a place where women ‘lift each other up’ despite their barriers and has captured this through her lens. The photographs will be installed and displayed on 9 shipping containers at The Pier Head, erected as part of River Festival Liverpool (June 1-2nd).

The team responsible for River Festival Liverpool’s festival’s artistic programme, Changing Tides, will also feature a public art commission on the Pier Head of huge, floating Urchins, created by internationally acclaimed artist Jin Choi of Choi and Shine design studio, who have previously presented work at the 2014 European City of Culture festival in Marseille, Milan Design Week, the Amsterdam Light Festival and the Commonwealth Games in Australia. Inspired by the light, delicate structure of sea urchin shells that reveal one of the most spectacular patterns found in nature and all hand-crocheted with industrial marine fibre by women across the World, the focus is to raise awareness of our fragile oceans. Liverpool will be able to see up to five Urchins in place across the site throughout the month of June.

Liverpool sculptor Faith Bebbington’s ‘The Runner’ will also be visible at The Albert Dock, a commission that celebrates and highlights Liverpool’s links to the modern Olympic Games. Bebbington creates dynamic figurative sculpture that captures movement and humanise public spaces, she is preoccupied with the themes of balance, the process of falling, and capturing sequences of human or animal movement.

In a response to the RISE festival, ten female Liverpool writers will take up residence and write as it unfolds throughout 2019. Their poems, songs, stories and plays-in-miniature will pop up throughout the festival year, in film, print, online and in performance. The writers include Lizzie Nunnery (Winner of Best New Play at UK Theatre awards 2017), acclaimed poets Helen Tookey (Best British Poetry 2014, Salt) and Jennifer Lee Tsai (Ten: Poets of the New Generation, Bloodaxe 2017), playwright Lindsay Rodden (The Story Giant), Yemeni-Scouse performance poet Amina Atiq (BBC6 Music Festival), short story writer Stephanie Jane Gray (Writing on the Wall) and acclaimed novelist and playwright Deborah Morgan (Disappearing Home).

Liverpool poet and performer, Amina Atiq, said:

‘The role of women in society is under such scrutiny in the media right now, but to see a city not just talking but taking action and sharing this positive message, gives me huge confidence that this can be the start of something powerful, creating an enduring legacy for Liverpool.’

As the season continues the city will be alive with inspiration and talent from leading women with a series of ‘How To…’ events as part of the RISE programme including ‘How to be a Spy’ with Dame Stella Rimington (the first female Director General of MI5) at St Georges Hall, ‘How to be an Astronaut’ with Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the space station in 1991, at Liverpool Cathedral. This event will accompany ‘Gaia,’ a stunning 23ft replica of the Earth created by Luke Jerram and commissioned by Liverpool City Council. Later this summer Clare Balding will also head to Liverpool to host a ‘How to be a Sports Journalist’ event in conjunction with her involvement with the Vitality Netball World Cup being held in the city.

The ‘First Women Exhibition,’ a free exhibition that comprises of a unique collection of 100 portraits capturing women in the UK who were “first” in their field of achievement will head to St George’s Hall from 18 June – 27 August. Taken by internationally acclaimed photographer Anita Corbin, the images aim to provide inspiration and insight for a new generation of women seeking an understanding of their own roles in a rapidly changing world in which equality is still an issue.

More announcements will be made over the coming months which will include details of the Netball World Cup opening ceremony, Feminist Book Fortnight, AND Festival and more.

Further events:

Kinship, Open Eye Gallery, 29 April-30 June, FREE

Kinship looks at how women are using photography to reflect upon their sense of kin. The projects collected together seek to uncover the ways people build close relationships amongst each other that feel like family. The exhibition features Pixy Liao, Momo Okabe, Margaret Mitchell, Lydia Goldblatt, Jenny Lewis, and Johanna Heldebro

Shanghai Sacred, Victoria Gallery (University of Liverpool), 1 May – 1 September, FREE

Award-winning photographer and anthropologist Liz Hingley explores religious rituals and their social contexts in Shanghai – a city she spent three years exploring and analysing its spiritual landscape. The work will be displayed using a Chinese freestanding bamboo structure made by artist Chen Hangfeng.

A Portrait Of…, Open Eye Gallery, 15 July – 30 September, FREE

This work looks at how we see each other through photography, something that most of us use to communicate every day. The projects on show share new perspectives on youth, disability and age.

‘How to be a…’

How to be a Spy, St George’s Hall, Tuesday 18 June, ticketed

Dame Stella Rimington – the first female Director General of MI5 – will talk about her various roles in the security service. After leaving MI5, Dame Stella has become a celebrated author, with her ‘insider knowledge’ making her spy novels a must-read. Tickets are on sale via

How to be a Sports Journalist and Broadcaster, July, 21st July, M&S Bank Arena

Presenter, writer and broadcaster Clare Balding will take part in a special Q&A talking about her award-winning career, its highlights and any advice she would give to both men and women who are looking to follow in her footsteps.

How to be an Astronaut, Sunday 2nd June 6.30pm at Liverpool Cathedral

Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the space station in 1991 and therefore see this view of the Earth, will talk about her experience of space travel and the intense preparation that went in to her launching into the history books in May 1991. She will touch upon the meticulous training and preparation as well as reflecting on the importance of teamwork, leadership, communication and motivation. This event will take place as part of the River Festival, and Helen will also take part in a question and answer session.

April Ashley Archive, Liverpool Central Library, 28 July – 28 August, FREE

Liverpool City Council has been given exclusive permission to exhibit a small selection of artefacts from the archive of April Ashley MBE, the trans-pioneer, model and actress. It will include artefacts recording April’s time from Pitt Street to the glamour of the Carousel Club in Paris and appearances in Vogue magazine. There will also be letters and photographs of the Liverpool woman and icon who helped change the legal and social representation of gender.

Disco Classical with Special Guest Sister Sledge featuring Kathy Sledge at Liverpool International Music Festival, Sefton Park, Sunday 21 July

The first act to be announced for LIMF 2019 is the unmissable live experience: Disco Classical featuring Sister Sledge with Kathy Sledge. The show will feature a 35-piece orchestra and a carefully curated selection of much-loved disco hits as part of an explosive performance featuring a host of collaborators.

Tickets and latest information for all events can be found by visiting, following @Rise_Liverpool on Twitter and Instagram.

RISE has been curated by Liverpool City Council and funded by Arts Council England. Other partners include University of Liverpool, The Women’s Organisation, Blackburne House, Northern Power Women, Merseyside Women of the Year, The Girls Network and the Mayoral Club.