Giant inflatable sculptures arrive in Liverpool city center to represent ‘positive mental health’

Liverpool’s arts centre, the Bluecoat, will soon house a collection of giant inflatable sculptures.

The Bluecoat’s iconic courtyard will be transformed with the OK! Cherub! collection, a group of new works by artist Bruce Asbestos.

The collection that will be on display from February 18 will include three giant inflatable sculptures – a yellow worm, a frog spawn and a giant arm.

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Each larger than life cartoon sculpture represents a different aspect of positive mental health, with each of the names reflecting this. The giant yellow worm represents ‘rest’, the group of green frogs represents ‘community’ and the giant cartoon arm represents ‘connection’.

The inspiration for the ‘community’ frog spawn came from Bruce’s lockdown walks with his son in the local park where they spotted a frog spawn in the pond.

Production sketch of the frogspawn giant inflatable sculpture.

The “resting” worm sculpture is inspired by Japanese Kokeshi dolls – stylized wooden dolls without arms or legs that are used as children’s toys and sold to tourists.

The giant “connection” arm is an unknown cartoon character that symbolizes reaching out to connect.

The purpose of the sculptures, which were developed in response to the historic building and courtyard of the Bluecoat, is to invite people to reflect on how they care for themselves and those around them.

Bruce has also worked with children from two primary schools in North Liverpool, Broad Square and Leamington Community, as part of Bluecoat’s ‘Out of the Blue’ extra-curricular art clubs.

Artist Bruce Asbestos who created the giant inflatable sculptures.
Artist Bruce Asbestos who created the giant inflatable sculptures.

In the process, children brought their own symbols of community, self-care, love, happiness and friendship to life in air-drying clay. Each school will host a Jesmonite sculpture by the artist that combines the children’s favorite designs.

Bruce Asbestos said: “I love that all the large windows in the courtyard of the Bluecoat are decorated with cherubs, there are at least 40 of them, which can often be overlooked. I liked that my sculptures were like new friends for the cherubs.

“In addition to associations with love, cherubim are also representations of peace, prosperity and leisure. I liked to think that this work is essentially about different forms of love; and that there is this sculptural conversation between my pop works and the history of Renaissance and Baroque art.

“I was also interested in making large fun sculptures that will wobble in the wind; I love that people like to have selfies with a giant relaxing yellow worm.”

Marie-Anne McQuay, program manager for the Bluecoat, said: “After two years of living and working during a pandemic, we wanted to continue to commission public works for our yard that are really fun and would lift people’s spirits.

“Bruce Asbestos effortlessly blends everyday objects and pop culture with high art to produce his impactful and charming sculptures. His sensitive and thoughtful collaboration with schoolchildren in Liverpool also gave them the experience of developing a real work of public art.

The Bluecoat will also launch “Eye of Newt”, an interactive mobile video game by Bruce Asbestos, which features versions of the sculptures in an ever-changing digital landscape.

The OK! Cherub! by Bruce Asbestos can be seen in the Bluecoat courtyard from February 18 to June 5, 2022.

The Bluecoat is located at 8 School Ln, Liverpool, L1 3BX.

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