A few weeks ago I took a mini road trip to Liverpool, having never been there before (and knowing it had been the European Capital of Culture in 2008), so was keen to check out some of the art there.
First things first as always for me in a new city – a bit of a walk around to get the ‘jist’ of the place. I was very impressed overall with the beautiful buildings in the city – a wealth of great architecture from the Georgian right up to the contemporary.
Next stop Liverpool Cathedral, and I was surprised to find a Tracey Emin piece over the entrance. As my photo does not do this piece justice, you can see a better image on the cathedral’s website. The text piece in neon reads “I felt you and I knew you loved me” and is said by the artist to have been created to allow visitors to the cathedral to contemplate the sharing of love. I’m not sure why I was so confused to find contemporary art in a cathedral – after all the church has historically always been a major patron of the arts, but contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin often challenge authority with their work – something establishments fear, so it was nice to see this marriage of the new and the traditional here.
Another cathedral next, this time the Metropolitan Cathedral with it’s unusual crown-like design. This is a very modern-feeling building, especially inside where the large circular hall contains saints chapels each with a very different design. Here too, was modern art – abstract paintings adorning some of the chapels.
Couldn’t visit Liverpool without a stop at Tate. I guess being used to Tate Modern and Britain, I found this very small and was round it in about half an hour.
I was caught by an unusual display in the gallery – about five paintings from the collection were hung on a clear perspex wall in the centre of the floor, so that viewers could walk round and take a look at the back. I wasn’t quite sure if this added to the appreciation of the painting at all (probably the opposite as I spent more time at the back than the front) but is an interesting concept to bring up discussion of the object and authenticity.
Then I bumped into Susan Hiller’s piece ‘Belshazzar’s Feast, the Writing on Your Wall’ – almost literally as it was quite strangely placed by the exit. I’d seen this before in a different exhibition, and remembered it being more atmospheric and representative of a domestic room. Here, it felt a bit like a visitor seating area done out in Ikea.
Next to the Bluecoat, to see Listening, a Hayward touring exhibition of sound art. My favourite here was Laurie Anderson’s ‘The Handphone Table’, where listeners have to place their elbows on a table and hands over their ears in order to hear a soundtrack – the vibrations conducting the sound through the body.
Back on the road, and I make a stop at the dilapidated passenger ship, The Duke of Lancaster. The ship was purchased to be made into a luxury shopping mall, but I guess planning permission wasn’t granted or finance ran out as she was left to rot in the middle of nowhere. Since then, street artists from around the UK have made her a giant canvas and the sight is pretty spectacular.
Final stop – Portmerion Village – a bit of a stretch to call it art but certainly a unique vision/disnificaion of a place worth seeing!