Looking Back: Liverpool's Most Memorable Public Artworks

Posted on 23 June 2015 by Liverpool Biennial

In light of the  10th anniversary of Antony Gormley's iconic work Another Place, we reflect on some of the most loved public realm commissions from previous years. From Richard Wilson's rotating cut-out to Jaume Plensa's magnificent Dream, these large-scale public artworks have brought a unique charm and intrigue to some of the most unlikely corners of the city.

1. Turning the Place Over - Richard Wilson (2008)

A curious rotating oval colonised the former Yate’s Wine Lodge in Moorfields for Liverpool Biennial 2008. An engineering marvel, Richard Wilson's  Turning the Place Over consisted of an 8 metres diameter ovoid cut from the façade, made to oscillate in three dimensions. Disturbing and disorientating from a distance, from close-up passers-by had a thrilling experience as the building rotated above them.

2. Bridging Home - Do-Ho Suh (2010)

Do-Ho Suh, Bridging Home, 2010. Photo: Alex Wolkowicz

For his Biennial commission in 2010, Suh wedged a scale model of his Korean family home, in-between two buildings on Duke Street in Liverpool City Centre. Do-Ho Suh’s work explores the possibility of coming to terms with his divided cultural background. His practice uses elements that intergrate eastern and western influences in an attempt to bridge these two cultural spheres or biographical references. In  Bridging Home, Suh achieves this by quite literally bridging two buildings. The awkward non-fit of Suh's Korean home represents this conflict of belonging.

 3. Web of Light - Ai Weiwei (2008)

Ai Weiwei, Web of Light, 2008. Photo: Adatabase

For Liverpool Biennial 2008, Chinese artist and political activist, Ai Weiwei, span a web of gigantic proportions across Liverpool’s Exchange Flags. A symbol of creativity, a crystal studded spider laid at the heart of the web, while LED lights strung along the cables allowed us to enjoy a paradoxical night-time image of dew glistening in the sun. Weiwei has said of  Web of Light, "There is no idea behind the spider, except that the spider itself might become an idea". Under his beautiful canopy, the artist provided us with a symbolic space for ideas to be dreamed into reality.

4. Dream - Jaume Plensa (2009)

Jaume Plensa,  Dream, 2009, Sutton Manors, St Helens. Photo: Stuart Rayner  

Commissioned as part of the Big Art Project,  Dream stands 20 meters high on the site of the former Sutton Manor Colliery. It was chosen by a group of ex-miners, and takes the form of the head of a little girl with eyes closed as if dreaming. Overlooking the M62, the work is the result of many conversations with the ex-miners and members of the local community who wanted a work that looked to a brighter future and created a beautiful and contemplative space for future generations, at the top of the former spoil heap. This special piece has become a well-loved landmark, not only for the residents, but for commuters all across the North West.

5. Villa Victoria - Tatsurou Bashi (2002)

Tatsurou Bashi, Villa Victoria, 2002

Liverpool's renowned Queen Victoria monument was transformed into an artwork, event, and meeting place in Bashi’s project Villa Victoria for Biennial 2002. Bashi constructed a fully furnished and functioning hotel room and reception around the monument in Derby Square. The artist reflected: "The sculpture looks fresh and renewed, because you see it, standing in a room or foyer, and you see it from a new perspective". This highlights and reminds us of the very nature of how and why such monuments exist and re-examines their relationship to the physical, historical, civic and social fabric of the city.

Do you have a favourite public artwork, and what is it that draws you to it? We are keen to hear what you would include in your top 5.

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