After 30 years it’s Ken’s Show at The Tate

Ken Simons installing a Magritte. Photo: Roger Sinek
TATE Liverpool marks its 30th anniversary next year and since 1988 one man has been a constant presence. Ken Simons is Art Handling Manager at the gallery and will be retiring later this year. To mark these two auspicious events, Tate Liverpool will be presenting a very special exhibition of 30 artists’ works from the Tate collection curated and conceived by Ken. Ken’s Show: Exploring the Unseen will be in the ground floor Wolfson Gallery from 2 April – 17 June next year and will include many of his favourite works. Many of the chosen artists have worked directly with Ken when he has installed their work in the galleries.
Ken Simons. Photo: Roger Sinek
Artists will include Mark Rothko whose work featured at Tate Liverpool’s opening, J.M.W Turner, a large sculpture by Phillip King, Piet Mondrian and Mark Wallinger who won the Turner prize when it was held at Tate Liverpool in 2007. The exhibition will also include two pieces by Graham Sutherland – a particular favourite of Ken’s. Ken said: “This is an amazing opportunity to display some of my favourite woks from the Tate collection after so many years getting to know the works personally. It is through this hands-on interaction and curating this show that I learnt and understood much more about artists’ exploration of space.” Ken has been with Tate for 43 years in total having worked for 13 years in London before moving to Liverpool. He had no formal art training and went straight from school to work in a steelworks in his home town of Scunthorpe before doing “the hippy thing” and moving to London where got a job at the Tate. As art handlers Ken and his small team are the only people allowed at the gallery to touch the works of art – the ‘do not touch’ rule even applies to the Artistic Director and exhibition curators. He says the highlight of his career was the opening of Tate Liverpool. “The buzz from the people of Liverpool was amazing.” Ken may be retiring in August but he will be kept very busy working on this exhibition, it is after all, Ken’s Show.