Rita McBride”s ‘Portal’ – Liverpool Biennial

This is a work of art that covers 2 of my favourite things – industrial archaeology and art that you can wander round.

It is in what was Toxteth Reservoir, built in 1853 in response to the latest outbreak of cholera, and to provide water for firefighting down on the docks, where most building and ships were still made of wood. It is a solid, Egyptian looking structure covering 2600 sq m, holding 2 million gallons within its 8 foot thick sandstone walls. Flow was controlled by a giant float similar to those used in modern toilets.  It is Grade II listed and closed in 1997. It is intended to be converted to an art space, with the roof converted to a grassed community space.



Rita McBride’s installation is called Portal, an opening or wormhole between real and imaginary worlds. Hmmm. On entry, we were allowed to get used to the darkness, then the lasers started and the space became magical. The lasers lit up the space with green, but also twinkled as if water was dripping through the beams.






Here’s the artist explaining the piece:


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