Ken’s Show: Exploring the Unseen

While we were visiting the Tate in Liverpool on Sunday we managed to catch the last day of the free exhibition “Ken’s Show: Exploring the Unseen”. Tate Liverpool opened in 1988 so last year was it’s 30th anniversary. As part of the celebrations the Gallery gave their chief Art Handler, Ken Simons (one of the back room staff who set up the exhibitions) and who has worked at Tate Liverpool since it opened (having previously worked in the London Galleries) free reign to pick 30 works to go on display in his own curated exhibition.

On display are a selection of Ken’s favourite artworks from the Tate collection alongside artists who had their first UK showing at Tate Liverpool. Highlights include Joseph Mallord William Turner, Dame Barbara Hepworth and Mark Rothko.

His taste is clearly similar to my own as I liked just about every work that he’d selected, and I felt it provided quite a good introduction to Modern Art.

The works on display included

Snow Storm – Steam boat off a harbour’s mouth (1842) by Turner


A mud painting by Richard Long Untitled (1991)


Winged Being (1961) by Jean Arp


Figure (Nanjizal) (1958) by Barbara Hepworth


Howard Hodgkin’s Rain (1984-9)




6 thoughts on “Ken’s Show: Exploring the Unseen

    • Yes. I think it was good that the Tate let one of their “backroom boys” select eorks for an exhibition. Wouldn’t it be fun to have the opportunity to do this?

      • It would! Although in his case, he might be a backroom boy but after 30 years working with the collections he must be very knowledgeable. When I was in Southampton the museum had an exhibition about the football club and the art gallery had given over one room to the club to curate. A range of staff – management, administration and players. Each piece had a longish caption explaining why it had been chosen. Prejudices showing here, but the footballers’ comments were very insightful. Obviously they don’t all just think with their feet! And, ahem, other parts of their anatomy.

      • True. Ken clearly knows his stuff. And of course, working people are often undervalued. Think way back to the days when workers in the mills pits and factories would go out of their way to study and educate themselves. And sometimes hidden talents would find a way to reveal themselves – the Mort East “postmen painters” comes to mind, for example

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