Bluecoat, School Lane
11th December 2010 - 13th February 2011
On a rainy day in Liverpool's busy city centre, the best place to go
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.