press release

pree release:

Tate Liverpool continues its unique and highly popular series of Collection displays, DLA Piper Series: This is Sculpture, by collaborating with the current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The poet worked with Tate Liverpool’s Head of Exhibitions Peter Gorschlüter to select works from the Tate Collection for the new display entitled The Sculpture of Language.

Presenting artworks created in a range of media from 1699 to the present day, Duffy's personal selection creates a multi-layered and poetic display. It invites us on a journey towards a universal notion of language, from ‘before words’ to ‘when words come into being’. She explores the numerous ways in which artists have deployed, dissected and engaged with language; by making reference to literature, by exploring the processes and devices of inscription and the formal qualities of typography, by using words to convey meaning or by creating works that are synonyms and metaphors for communication itself.

The journey starts from the moment of ‘silence’ and presents works by Surrealist artists such as Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst whose visual alchemy examines the unfathomable nature of language, moving through to Gillian Wearing’s striking photographic series of passers-by holding up Signs that Say What You Want Them To Say… The lyricism embodied in works by Richard Deacon and Sonia Delaunay will be juxtaposed with the work of Jenny Holzer and Bruce Nauman, which analyse the power of language and its clichés. The display also presents contemporary artworks which deploy language as material as means to trigger the imagination, such as Lawrence Weiner’s Taken To As Deep As The Sea Can Be. An oscillation between the realms of public and private and a focus on art’s capacity to communicate in subjective terms is explored in Tracey Emin’s neon works.

Carol Ann Duffy has written a previously unseen new sonnet entitled POETRY, inspired by the display, which will be integrated within the exhibition. For the first time Duffy has devised an installation that invites the audience to rearrange the words of her sonnet to create their own original poems.


I couldn't see Guinness and not envisage a nun; a gun, a finger and thumb; midges, blether, scribble, scrum.

A crescent moon, boomerang, smirk, bone; or full, a shield, a stalker, a stone. I couldn't see woods for the names of trees - sycamore, yew, birch, beech - or bees

without imagining music scored on the air - nor pass a nun without calling to mind a pint of one, stout, untouched, on a bar at the Angelus.

Carol Ann Duffy

This is Sculpture: The Sculpture of Language

Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Gillian Wearing, Richard Deacon, Sonia Delaunay, Jenny Holzer, Bruce Nauman, Lawrence Weiner, Tracey Emin ...

Peter Gorschlüter, Carol Ann Duffy