Research Point: British Art

I am lucky that Liverpool has in addition to the traditional Art Galleries ‘Tate Liverpool‘ down at The Albert Dock so I have chosen to do some research on it.

Tate-Liverpool(c) Susan Devonport

A potted history behind the gallery can be found here.

A sad event in the long history of my home city was the catalyst for the setting up of a home for the National collection of Modern Art in this part of the country.  I am of course talking about the Toxteth riots of 1981.  The Director of the Tate at the time approached the newly appointed Minister for Merseyside Michael Hestletine with a proposal for ‘A Tate of the North’ and the rest as they say is history.

In 1981 Albert Dock had been derelict since 1972 but the Merseyside Maritime Museum leased one of the warehouses and bars and restaurants started to open and it is now a thriving tourist destination.  Another derelict warehouse was chosen to house Tate Liverpool and in 1985 the architect James Stirling was commissioned to convert the building.   He left the outside virtually intact but the inside was converted into simple galleries suitable for displaying modern art.

Tate Liverpool floor plan

The gallery opened to the public in May 1988 but I’m ashamed to say that my first visit was not until 20 years later in the Summer of 2008 to see the Gustav Klimt exhibition that took place during Liverpool’s successful year as European Capital of Culture.

I think one of the reasons that it took until then to visit was because you have to pay to see the major exhibitions and looking back at past exhibitions there were very few that peaked my interest, though I’m sorry to see that I missed Degas and Hockney.  Last year I went to my first OCA study visit ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and a group of fellow students got together to see the ‘Turner, Monet, Twombly‘ exhibition last September.  It was great to be with like minded people to look at the works instead of by myself as I usually am.


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