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Armada sails into Tate Liverpool at heart of new display

A new free display at Tate Liverpool examines the city’s relationship with migration – and its centrepiece is artist Hew Locke’s stunning suspended installation Armada.

It is the first time the work, which is made up of a flotilla of model boats and craft, has been on show at Tate since it was acquired by the organisation three years ago.

Locke has recreated cargo ships, fishing boats and galleons from different historical periods and places, inspired by models he saw in European churches which gave thanks for survival at sea.

The new display, Port and Migrations, which opens at the Royal Albert Dock gallery today, is joined by a second called Global Encounters which explores and rethinks how international exchange has enabled the spread of ideas and knowledge and global art movements have been shaped by migration and the relationships between artists on different continents.

Global Encounters includes work by Piet Mondrian, Shikanosuke Yagaki and Naum Gao.

Tate Liverpool director Helen Legg said: “I’ve long admired the work of Hew Locke and I’m thrilled that we are able to make Armada a key work in Tate Liverpool’s new Port and Migrations display. I think it’s vital as a gallery that we consider the historic significance of our location in the city when choosing which artworks from the Tate collection to show.

Top: Hew Locke's Armada. Above: Visceral Canker by Donald Rodney.

“Hew’s work, and the others in this display, really reflect how the movement of people and ideas is central to Liverpool’s history and identity.

“By exploring works like these, and how they resonate with local and global history, we can consider the relationship between Liverpool and the world that it looks out on.”

Port and Migrations will also feature artists such as Sonia Boyce, Chen Zhen, Ellen Gallagher and Donald Rodney, whose Visceral Canker 1990 consists of wall plaques displaying two coats of arms, one symbolising Queen Elizabeth I, the other John Hawkins, the first British slave trader.

The plaques are linked via a system of tubes which circulate imitation blood, symbolising the movement of enslaved peoples and reflecting upon Britain’s colonial past.

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