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Blake art gift 'thank you' to city as Tate awarded Freedomof Liverpool.

Byline: Tom Bristow

TATE Liverpool was awarded the Freedom of the City last night, and said "thank you" by donating a rare Sir Peter Blake work.

The piece, from theman who famously designed The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's album sleeve, was commissioned to celebrate the museum's twentieth anniversary in 2008.

Presenting the gift, director of the Tate, Sir Nicholas Serota, spoke of the "very great honour" the gallery had just received.

Liverpool is the first of the country's four Tate galleries to be awarded a Freedom of the City.

Sir Nicholas described the recognition as "extraordinary". He said other Tate galleries had followed in Liverpool's footsteps in establishing British artists.

"It has, beyond all other Tates, taken its work outside the gallery to schools, hospitals, prisons and in that it has taken the lead from the people of Liverpool," he said.

Dr Christoph Grunenberg, director of Tate Liverpool since 2001, said Sir Peter Blake was a very generous artist and was commissioned for the piece because of his long association with the city.

"Peter was a pop artist before pop art really existed," he said. "He has always worked with colour and I think that is what this work reflects.

"His work is about collage. It is about getting things from different sources."

Dr Grunenberg explained that the piece with its different style for each letter represented the variety of work in Tate Liverpool Sir Peter, a long-serving supporter of the modern art gallery, only made two editions of the work, one of which hangs in the Tate, with the other staying in the Town Hall.

The Freedom Roll, which gives its recipients the right to herd their sheep down Dale Street, was presented to the museum's directors in the Town Hall.

The ceremony was led by the Lord Mayor Hazel Williams, who said the evening was an "historic occasion and a very proud moment for me".

She described the gallery's opening in 1988 as the point where many people started to see "light at the end of the tunnel" and the start of Liverpool's regeneration. The Lord Mayor praised the museum's impact on the city in drawing in tourists, art lovers and creating jobs. City council leader Joe Anderson said: "Tate Liverpool is a great example of the way in which the city has reinvented itself.

"As well as attracting national and international visitors, Tate Liverpool is equally popular locally and is a particularly prized visit for schoolchildren."

And Tate bosses have pledged to continue increasing their involvement with the city.

Tate Liverpool's executive director Andrea Nixon said: "We look forward to our continued work with the city and our local communities: attracting more visitors to the city, expanding on the 60,000 local school and community participants we engage with each year, and allowing as many people as possible to enjoy an exciting range of special exhibitions and Tate collection displays." After being heavily bombed in the war, the docks were transformed from a weedstrewn ruin into a modern art Mecca, and became the most visited modern and contemporary art gallery outside London.

It has hosted exhibitions by artists from Gustav Klimt to Rodin and is currently home to Picasso's Peace and Freedom exhibition.

The museum was the centre of the city's Capital of Culture year in 2008 and was last night praised at the ceremony for its contribution to the successful bid.


Sir Peter Blake - designed The Beatles' most famous album sleeve Lord Mayor Hazel Williams enjoys the gift with Tate Liverpool directors Dr Christoph Grunenberg and Andrea Nixon
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2010
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