Open Sesame Tate/Uclan Film Project

Collaborative project led by Professor Lubaina Himid.

Open Sesame launched in 2005, reveals black artist’s experiences of the Tate galleries: Tate Britain, Modern, Liverpool and St Ives from both artist and audience points of view. The research included visits to Tate gallery archives, meetings with education officers and other relevant people and several on-going meetings and interviews with black artists. We filmed on location at all four Tate galleries as well as on visits to various artist’s studios.

Paul Clarkson - JR Archer

Paul Clarkson – JR Archer

Open Sesame was the first in a series ofpublication research resource documents in which Tate and Uclan in collaboration have sought to develop their work around the impact of past, current and possible future exhibitions, displays, competitions and collecting strategies initiated by Tate in relation to artists of African, Asian and Caribbean descent.

We are working on the idea that an answer to increasing the development of a diverse audience lies in an engagement with African/Caribbean artists about their experience of Tate.

Introductory text from Open Sesame booklet.

OPEN SESAME: Making Histories Visible

During the past twenty five years Tate has shown the work of more African/Caribbean, African, and African/American artists than any other museum or gallery in Britain. Some of these artists have shown at all four Tate sites. One or two have been Tate artists in residence, several have given illustrated talks and been invited to contribute papers to conferences, some have been short listed for the Turner prize, two have won it, some of them are dead.

Veronica Ryan - Tate St Ives

Veronica Ryan – Tate St Ives

Most of the people who visit the four Tate galleries are either, artists, art lovers, art collectors, interested in art, or simply creative and artistic people. Audiences and visitors come from all over the world and all over the country and from the local population. If you ask them what they are interested in they say they like buildings, music, paintings, videos, photographs, interior decoration, films, books, sculpture, furniture, jewellery, gardens and clothes. They say they can find ideas for and references to all these in the galleries most of the time when they visit. Some of them say thats why they visit.The work in the vast collection is owned by the British people. Three of the galleries are free to enter but in all four Tates some of the exhibitions can only be seen if you pay an entrance fee. Most of the displays in which these artists work has been displayed have been free. What is the political difference between the exhibition and the display and does it matter?

All four Tate sites are at the waters edge.

Tate Liverpool is slightly oddly placed right on the banks of the river Mersey nestling in the Albert Dock. To get to it you must cross a large but safe main road then go straight along an open cobbled street and across a little bridge. The gallery is a huge space that looks like a row of shops.

On display is international and British art from the Tate Collection, alongside special exhibitions of internationally renowned artists. It is one of the largest galleries of modern art outside London.

Tate Modern is slightly oddly placed right on the bank of the Thames at Bankside near the Globe theatre in London. It was a power station, it is dark and forbidding. To get to it just follow the crowds, either walking along the back streets of Southwark or crossing the bridges from the City, or arrive in a boat from the centre of town. Its like a giants castle but darker and more brutal.

Here you can see the Tate collection of international modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day.

Tate Britain is slightly oddly placed on the bank of the Thames at Millbank in London near an art school, a housing estate and a massive complex of government buildings. Its on the site of a prison. You can get to it by tube to Pimlico or numerous buses or you can walk along a wide and busy road parallel to the river or you can arrive by boat. The gallery looks like a temple but noisier and friendlier.

Here is housed the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day.

Lifeguard's Hut, Tate St.Ives

Lifeguard’s Hut, Tate St.Ives

Tate St Ives is slightly oddly placed on Porthmeor Beach overlooking the sea but perched on a hill. It sits next to a block of flats for the elderly and a small cemetery. To get to it you climb through winding streets of fishermen’s houses. It looks like the gasworks but very much more beautiful.

Tate St Ives presents international modern and contemporary art in the unique cultural context of St Ives, including works from the Tate Collection,in particular works by the artists from the St Ives school. It also comprises the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Images are selected stills from the Open Sesame booklet

DVD + Booklet Publication 2005



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