Thursday, 27 August 2009
Finding Tate Liverpool
Liver building and Albert Docks. Photo copyright Margaret Sharrow 2009
Coming into Liverpool was supposed to be straightforward, an easy stop between points north and south. I had the whole route written down on a card: M6 exit 26, M58 to the end, then pick up an A road into Bootle, one left turn and a straight run down to the Albert Dock and Tateland. No, no, no, no! I hear a chorus of Liverpudlian drivers exclaim. But how was I to know that there was a bizarre slip road feed just before the roundabout at the exit, and unable to see past a big white van full of big men who obviously realised that I hadn't a clue where I was going, I found myself instead on the A49, Liverpool's answer to the suburban shopping hinterland, non-expressway route into so many North American cities, plagued by endless unsynchronised red lights. (Residents of Hamilton, Ontario may now swell with justifiable pride at their perfectly synchronous traffic flow system.) At any rate, after my somewhat delayed departure from Lakeland, I began to despair of arriving at Tate anything before the heartrending moment after the doors were locked. As it happened, I eventually found first the Albert Dock, and then, after driving past and returning on the other side of the central road barrier, the pay and display parking. £2 for one hour, £4 for two, and £5 for three hours. 5:07 pm, read the meter. I slipped a two pound coin into the machine, yanked my ticket out almost before it had printed, popped it into the car on the dashboard (North American visitors take note: without completing this step, you are subject to a fine and the dreaded clamping!), and legged it towards the water.
While 'Central Tourist Attractions' are notably well waymarked, Tate Liverpool itself is not. On the other hand, I had no idea it was competing with so many other attractions. Granada Studios and the inevitable Beatlemania I knew about; what I didn't realise was that the waterfront had been completely (re)developed with arenas, cafes, Bug Experiences (I kid ye not), and an endless range of boutiques and tourist tat shops occupying every square inch of the former warehouses. Naively, I had thought that the Albert Dock was a working dock, that just happened to have an art gallery attached to the northeast corner. I can hear Liverpudlian laughter echoing like the studio outtakes attached to the tail end of so many of the later Beatles tracks.