A couple of blogs this week have inspired me to step back into Tate Liverpool. Arriving in the UK at dawn after the 21 hour journey plus the 5 hours in transit has almost ruined London for me. It is a hit-the-ground-running (on empty) experience. In 2010 it was difficult to do the Tate Modern justice before it was time to head north, so I ended up really disliking it. I hated the grey concrete, the hordes of pushy and sniggering school kids, the lack of seats. Even the clever curatorial pairing of unlike works (with explanation) seemed too obvious.
Ah, but 2011 brought the Tate Liverpool! Another story. A pleasant train ride up from Manchester – I love the regional cities and the railways. The Albert Dock is a lovely mix of old old, refurbished old and brand new. The new museum was a week away from opening.
The scale of the buildings around the dock was emphasised by boats moored in and around them. Part of the show perhaps.
The Alice in Wonderland feel of Robert Therrien sculptures on the ground floor were immediate crowd pleasers. The stack of dishes were angled so that as you walked around them they seemed to spin and topple. Faster walking made them spin and wobble more, almost to the point of vertigo. Fairground fun already and we have just arrived.
There were lots of other sculptures spread throughout the expansive pink rooms as well as smaller spaces, and probably just as notable were the people, really engaged people. It was almost like an interactive museum display – lively conversations, sounds of delight and surprise, calls of “come and look at this!” Art at its best – I have never experienced anything like it.
The glimpses from the windows were like the slices of Sydney Harbour visible from the Art Gallery of New South Wales – a water view as a contrast.
Perhaps the hordes of school kids were there, but more connected with the artwork. And there was more – a mammoth Magritte retrospective. Unfortunately, my offsider in the coffee shop did not enjoy the Tate Liverpool as much as I did. It was quite a long wait.
What happy gallery experience is lurking in your memory? Is it not so happy, about someone waiting in the coffee shop?