Exhibition: Illuminating the Wilderness and Constellations - Tate Liverpool

Admittedly Illuminating the Wilderness, a film and installation exhibition on the top floor of Tate Liverpool initially does not have a specific relevance to photography. The film is a collaboration with Project Art Works, focusing on people who are highly sensitive to the sensory stimuli of the world and have have complex needs. However the accompanying installation is an evolving piece that starts off as a series of hanging rolls of plain paper which are expressed upon through a series of workshops in the gallery by participating groups from Social Care organisations across Merseyside, culminating in a unique piece of work relevant to its space and place.

The plain paper hanging in the space was an inspirational takeaway for me as it suggests how my BoW can become a more three dimensional piece of site-specific work. Occupying a volume of space as opposed to being flattened on a two dimensional surface. Of course these kinds of ideas are a matter of scale to be considered depending on the feasibility of budget and availability of a space with an interesting light/shadow arrangement.

Downstairs I encountered the latest Constellations arrangement, which are a loosely curated selection from the Tate collections to search for more abstract connections between both modern and contemporary works. If nothing else it gives the opportunity to stand face to face with a few famous works such as Peter Blake and Andreas Gursky for free. At its best, it stimulates further insight into certain pieces or areas of interest. For example, Charles Ray was someone I could add to my list of references of people I could consider who used photography to document sculpture, in his case ‘as an activity rather than as an object’.

Tate Liverpool had an additional art salad in its Ideas Depot. Similar to Constellations, it provided an exhibition room to showcase its collection without a historical curatorial context. Instead it is to be a place to ask questions such as who decides what goes on the gallery wall and for what purpose. The design is to replicate a storage facility and stimulate a feeling of drawing from the archives. In the end though it is only cosmetic, because the works are fixed and captioned as anywhere else. There is no physical interaction with the work itself. Understandable given the value of the collection. Tate says that through school workshops the work is moved in and out to create new displays, but unless partaking in this exercise the idea yourself, the purpose is void.

The Ideas Depot again though gave me a chance to reconnect with two further pieces of sculpture that solely exist in photography format, A Line Made by Walking by Richard Long and Pose Works for Plinths 3 by Bruce McLean. Like Charles Ray, these artists were exploring the possibilities of one medium, sculpture, while simultaneously depending on the limitation of another, photography to authenticate the existence of their ephemeral art. It is a timely reminder as I start working on A4 in BoW, where I am using one medium to both create art AND document.

Overall this was a visit that makes institutions such as Tate valuable entities, being able to explore new connections and themes with a diverse collection of art work, while reconnecting with previous inspirations in the flesh to stimulate older memories.


Jackson, I (2019) ‘Tate Liverpool: Illuminating the Wilderness’ In: Art in Liverpool [online] At: https://www.artinliverpool.com/events/tate-liverpool-illuminating-the-wilderness/ (Accessed on 26.04.19)

Tate (no date) Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk (Accessed on 26.04.19)