16th September - 19th October 2008
EdgeCentrics is worthwhile seeing as part of a guided tour at the Williamson
Tunnels, Edge Hill. I had never visited the tunnels and so it was interesting
to discover not only the existence of this underground world funded by
Joseph Williamson in the 1820s, but also to see it being used as an innovative
exhibition space for artists.
The first thing that I wanted to know is why the tunnels were built.
Once you are on the guided tour, not only will you discover more about
the tunnels, but also the concepts around the artworks exhibited and the
mystery of the tunnels all start to unfold in an unusual and innovative
The tunnels are a fascinating glimpse into Liverpool’s heritage.
They are part of a vast “mysterious kingdom of winding tunnels and
caverns built in the 1820s and 1830s by local philanthropist Joseph Williamson”,
also known as the ‘King of Edge Hill’. Joseph’s eccentric
character, personality and ideas are the kind that come along possibly
once every three hundred years. They are few and far between. A man with
what seems to be a ‘social conscience’, he had the tunnels
built on the basis of what some have described as “philanthropy”,
although no-one knows the exact reason why the tunnels were built - which
only adds to their mystery.
The art exhibition throughout the tunnels is curated by Jolanta Jagiello
whose own artwork Wild Gourmet’s Menu: Stir fried; Oven-Baked; Charcoal-Grilled
is also on display. Throughout the tunnels there is the sound of dripping
water, and through the labyrinth of aged artefacts and debris you will
discover that artworks and stories begin to unfold in association with
the history of the tunnels. An installation - such as Many Hands Make
Hard Work by Jayne Lloyd is a creative use of space. Storymaking by Laura
Wild uses artefacts from the tunnels, and a writing book is an interesting
start which uses an interesting interactive idea between the artist and
the public (I wrote in the book but I’m not telling you which piece!)
Intercepted here and there between alcoves and corridors are the formation
of handcrafted heads by Brigitte Jurack, written statements by Kate Hammersley
and Jeremy Turner, and a geometric installation by Emma Kemp. There is
an overall haunting feel to the exhibition. An installation of Victorian
dresses (by Margaret Cahill titled Gathering) lit up and suspended from
the tunnels like ghostly figures was atmospheric and intriguing. Liz Tunn
in A Way of Life used her own art mixed amongst found glass, and artefacts
of the tunnels. Megan Broadmedow's work was a tribute to tunnel workers,
decked out in true disco style, and created a medley of flickering light.
Other artists also made fascinating works.
Towards the end of the tour, I was passed an audio CD, also part of the
exhibition titled Music for the Williamson tunnels; A collection of the
sound of dripping water, by artists Alan Dunn and Jeff Young.
Overall this was an interesting exhibition and hats off to Jolanta for
curating a successful exhibition in an alternative space in Liverpool.
Well worth a visit. Just remember you will be paying for the tour of the
tunnels but the tour of the artworks is part of the tour and I feel is
well worth it. It was fascinating to discover this other side of Liverpool
and to see artists using the space innovatively.
Best to book and confirm first to check as hours may vary.
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Family Ticket £12.00