Since its opening at the spectacular Grade I listed Albert Dock in 1988, Tate Liverpool has become one of the most visited art show spaces outside of London. It offers four floors of galleries, a full events programme, and one of the best views across the Mersey.
Iconic and immense in its original ambition, Liverpool’s docks dominated global trade in the 19th century, with the Albert Dock at their heart. To this day, the Mersey continues to play a central role in the city’s cultural life and the docks are an integral part of its World Heritage waterfront.
The Albert Dock, once a bustling site crammed with rich cargos from Asia – tea, silk, tobacco and spirits – became derelict. In 1981, the dockyard underwent a major rejuvenation and once again, it sits at the forefront of Liverpool’s persona. Tate Liverpool was vital in re-booting the city’s industrial heritage through a spotlight on culture; giving the area a new meaning. Culture has literally and metaphorically moved into the empty industrial space.
That original ambition is still alive today. Tate Liverpool is nestled in a waterside fortress of old warehouses, shipping offices and cold stores. It has become so much more than a gallery. It’s part of the city landscape, an educational resource and a place to reflect; a gallery with a distinct identity, dedicated to showing modern art and encourages a new, younger audience through an active education programme.
The Newhey designers visited in August as part of a Liverpool “discovery” and the Tate was a must-see. At the gallery, we felt immediately “plugged-in” to a rich tapestry of modern art, installation pieces, art education as well as the sheer weight of the location’s history.
The art at Tate Liverpool is a thoughtfully and purposefully curated experience. The star of the show was “Constellations”; an evolving exhibit which opens up a different kind of process for the display of Tate’s collection. The alpha star in each constellation was the launch-pad for a journey through works and artists’ practices. Keywords or conceptual links lead you from photography to performance, painting to sculpture, video to drawing. Each trigger artwork is chosen for its profound effect on modern and contemporary art. The surrounding works are related through time, subject and ideology. You are immersed in a 3-dimensional creative puzzle and it makes you think about art in a different way. Brilliant!
On level one, “Industrial Landscape” by L.S. Lowry was the key artwork. From here the trail of curated connections led us to Piet Mondrian; two artists from completely different backgrounds and styles but yet connections were revealed by their context in this exhibition. Fantastic!
There’s a certain Northern pride in what the gallery has to offer. Tate Liverpool is accessible to all ages and abilities and as well as its art and exhibits, its learning programmes are for anyone. Art is a great leveller and feeds the soul.
We’re looking forward to the next season at Tate Liverpool. It’s in the diary!