Fire That Destroyed Liverpool Biennial Site Was an Arson Attack

Organizers have scrambled to find an alternative venue for Mark Leckey's film.

The Saw Mill, a planned Liverpool Biennial venue, on fire. Courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.
The Saw Mill, a planned Liverpool Biennial venue, on fire. Courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.

In the wake of an arson attack that engulfed the Saw Mill, one of the planned venues for the Liverpool Biennial, organizers have been forced to find an alternate location, reports the Liverpool Echo.

The Saw Mill is located in Liverpool’s Wolstenholme Square, and was formerly home to the nightclub Cream. Mark Leckey, a Turner Prize-winning artist, had planned to screen his autobiographical film, Dream English Kid, at the site. The movie was inspired in part by a Joy Division concert he attended in 1979, when he was just 15, at the Liverpool club Eric’s.

With the Biennial set to open July 9, organizers have had to scramble to find a last minute replacement site for the artwork. Police have officially declared that the blaze, which broke out in the evening on June 23, was a deliberate act of arson. Firefighters were on the scene extinguishing the conflagration for 15 hours.

“It took hold really quickly,” an eyewitness told the Liverpool Echo. “I was walking down Seel Street, there was a big crowd gathered.”

“We’re disappointed not to be able to show Mark Leckey’s work at the Saw Mill during this year’s Liverpool Biennial due to a fire at the venue over the weekend,” said Biennial artistic director Sally Tallant to the Echo. “However we are very excited to be presenting Mark’s work at the Blade Factory at Camp and Furnace.”

The Biennial, which will be on view through October 16, is housed at venues and public spaces across the city. A total of 42 international artists have been invited to install their work throughout the city, with a special showcase featuring 10 additional artists who work in the north of England.


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