Art beat

1st October 1999 at 01:00
Inside the bumper teachers' packs - one primary, one secondary - for The Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art 1999 there is a map of the city covered in brightly coloured symbols.

Each little hand, foot and star represents an exhibition or public site where contemporary art is being celebrated. Or to put it another way, the diary of events boasts: "350 artists, 24 countries, 61 sites, 1 city". There are group visits, talks and guided tours for pupils and there have been training days for teachers to help them link the exhibitions to the curriculum.

On October 5 there will be a teachers' course allowing an opportunity to discuss the paintings chosen for John Moores 21, the open exhibition which provides new artists with a chance to be seen. Although the Biennial only began officially on September 24, some schools were already working towards it last term. Six artists took part in five-day residencies on the theme of "trace" in five schools throughout Merseyside. Among them, Kim Laycock worked with year 8 pupils at Bellerive school to explore their identities in relation to the Port of Liverpool and its history. Amrit and Rabindra Singh at Redcourt school have provided insights into the Sikh religion while showing how the paisley pattern links Asian and British art. Children's self portaits, including objects brought from their homes, join the paisley theme in an exhibition (until October 17) at the Williamson Gallery. For information about all the events phone 0151 709 7444 or visit the website: www.biennial.org.uk In London, teachers and pupils of the visual arts will be pleased with the new workshop and seminar spaces at the National Gallery, part of the pound;8 million refurbishment which has also opened up the North Galleries where the displays of Dutch painting now include spectacular vistas. For bookings: 0171 300 8000 In south London, two primary schools, Boutcher and Charles Dickens, will take part in The Royal Watercolour Society's first education project with children. During "Feeling Colour in Water and Light" pupils will uncover the links between science, literature and watercolour painting and produce work of their own to be exhibited at the Bankside Gallery, still not officially open until May 2000. For information: 020 7928 7521 The Beggar's Opera is being performed by Cardboard Citizens, Britain's only homeless people's professional theatre company, with the help of the outreach team of English National Opera, the Baylis Programme. Popular songs mix with the original 18th century score, "melodies are stolen, lyrics pilfered". Roistering, subversive fun is the aim. Until October 23 at the Bridewell Theatre - the site of the Fleet Debtors' Prison - in the City of London. Tickets: 0171 936 3456 Heather Neill

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