Sketch of an erupting volcano

Under the Volcano, 70 Years On

A Malcolm Lowry Conference

LJMU is proud to host Under the Volcano, 70 Years On: A Malcolm Lowry Conference

The conference will be held at Liverpool John Moores University's Redmonds Building (get directions) and Bluecoat (get directions) on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 July 2017.

2017 marks the seventieth anniversary of the publication of Malcolm Lowry’s great modernist novel Under the Volcano, and the sixtieth anniversary of Lowry’s death. This two-day international conference will explore the legacy of Lowry’s work, his literary status today and his ongoing role as source of inspiration to creative writers and artists across various disciplines. 

It also provides an opportunity to explore the new areas of interest opened up by Ottawa University Press’s publication of critical editions of Swinging the Maelstrom (2013), In Ballast to the White Sea (2014) and the 1940 Under the Volcano (2015). We’re delighted to have keynote addresses from Professor Emerita Sherrill Grace and Professor Michael Schmidt, alongside papers and discussions from noted Lowry scholars from Canada, New Zealand, the US and Europe.

Conference details

The conference appropriately takes place in Liverpool, across the Mersey from Lowry’s birthplace on the Wirral. Since 2009, Bluecoat (Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre) has worked with the Firminists, an informal collective of Lowry enthusiasts and academics, to stage an annual ‘Lowry Lounge’ to celebrate the writer in the place of his birth. This programme has included guided walks, film screenings, talks and discussions, archival displays, music and other creative responses to Lowry, and the publication of an illustrated volume, Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World (edited by Bryan Biggs and Helen Tookey; Liverpool University Press, 2009). 

On the Friday evening, delegates are invited to a meal at Bluecoat, followed by a performance of The Lighthouse Invites the Storm, a newly commissioned sound art piece that draws on the local maritime landscape, Lowry’s own writings (especially Ultramarine) and the stories of Wirral-based retired seafarers, to create an immersive experience inspired by Lowry’s life and work. 

On the Saturday afternoon, following the conclusion of the formal academic proceedings, there is the opportunity to take part in a guided walk culminating in New Brighton, Lowry’s birthplace, and then to join us at Mariners’ Park (merchant seamen's retirement home) for an evening of Lowry-inspired sounds and words.

Also installed at Bluecoat for the duration of the conference will be Shot Under the Volcano, a unique collaboration between John Hyatt (artist, musician and Professor of Contemporary Art at LJMU) and Liverpool-based design and innovation company Uniform. Incorporating sensor technology, digital print, sound, water and tequila, this innovative work brings Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano into play as a fortune-telling device. Find out more here 


Delegate cost  £40.00 
Students and unwaged  £10.00 


Evening meal at the Bluecoat bistro  £15.00 

Register now

Download the conference programme

Got a question? Get in touch with us

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How to get to Liverpool:

By train

Liverpool is easily accessible by train from all major cities in the UK, the journey from London will take just over two hours. There are connections from both Manchester Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Once in Liverpool, the Merseyrail train network has good links to other parts of the city region.

By air

Liverpool John Lennon Airport is only seven miles from the city centre and Manchester Airport is just a 45 minute drive.

By car

Liverpool city region is well connected to the UK motorway network. From the M6 take the M62, M58 or M56 to reach the city centre.

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