Bluecoat, School Lane
11th December 2010 - 13th February 2011

Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan

On a rainy day in Liverpool's busy city centre, the best place to go is Underwater.

You're probably a bit bemused by that opening salvo, so I'll explain. Whilst it's very possible to go underwater in Liverpool, with such opportunities possible just a comfortable distance on foot from the amenities, it is also possible to visit The Bluecoat and experience Underwater - the latest exhibition to grace their much trod halls.

Indeed, underwater is no doubt a fantastic place to be in if one takes the word of the pieces on display. Various disciplines are taken in, including sculpture, interactive mixed media constructs, visual productions, and the traditional canvas. On arriving in the expansive space, with people scattered about sheltering from the elements and looking at the art in a curious manner, I was first drawn to the darkness of the film room, where Dorothy Cross' Jellyfish Lake film was showing to the apparent bemusement of a couple standing nearby me. Filmed almost entirely underwater, it is perhaps a slow burning piece of conceptual film art that whilst easy to understand with the words in front of you, can seem vague at first. Personally, I enjoyed its tranquil imagery rather than its artfulness, but there was much more to see so I moved on to the main gallery.

Welcoming me into the gallery - and almost giving me the shock of my life - was Cut & Scrape's movement activated construct entitled Submarine II. Delightfully interactive and although a little confusing at first, it is a refreshing change from the hands off detachment of most pieces of art. Try triggering it, and it becomes vaguely addictive after a while! Next to catch my eye was the installation by Klaus Osterwald of six large loud speakers emitting sounds of the ocean. Its simplicity is the key to its success and one can walk around the installation as if following the waves of sound, which adds to the fun of experiencing immensely.

Without a doubt, the show as a whole, is well worth your effort in going there. The underlying metaphor of exploring the subconscious is very relevant at this time of year when the festivities bring the chance - welcome or not - to consider those deeper issues, as the cold and frost begin to bite. Whether you're passing through, a fan of art, or just seeking a moment of relaxation, there is surely something for you in Underwater.

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