My Week: Lewis Biggs Director of the Tate Gallery Liverpool

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The Independent Culture

I spend most of the day insulating the loft in my home near Sefton Park, Liverpool. I have lunch with my wife, Ann and our two children, Alison, 12, and Nicholas, 10. After lunch, I catch up with correspondence missed while away in China last week. I spend the evening watching episodes of The Simpsons and Friends with my children.


Up at six to catch a train to London for a Tate Gallery management meeting. We discuss the latest developments at Bankside and Millbank. I make regular calls to staff in Liverpool to discuss organisation for the Heaven exhibition. Interest is building up and arrangements for press interviews are made. I feel like one half of my brain is in London thinking about new galleries, while the other is still in Liverpool.

Another meeting in the afternoon overruns and I miss my friend Paula Rego's exhibition opening at the Marlborough gallery.

I catch a train to Liverpool and arrive home around 10.


I drop my kids off at school and arrive at the Tate at around 8.30am. I find that a special video projector has been impounded by customs on its way over from France. Customs can't say when it will be released and I am unsure whether to order a replacement as it will cost pounds 4,000. The artist is jumping up and down and although I express my concern, I decide to take a gamble and hope it will clear in time. The exhibitions is in various stages of development, but far from ready for the public.

In the afternoon, I have a meeting with Nicholas Frayling, the vicar of the Liverpool parish church, to discuss the exhibition. I am nervous about how he will react, but he seems to understand that we have serious intentions. He tells me that various people have contacted him, expressing dismay at the exhibition. I expected some concern, but I feel it is important to see the exhibition before passing judgement. I always imagined the show would affect me powerfully and hoped people would feel as moved as me.

Back at the gallery, we make adjustments to lighting and labelling. By about 7.30pm, I realise we will have to work well into the night to get everything finished. So I order fish and chips for the 25 people in the gallery. I leave at 11pm, others work on until about 2am.


I get to the gallery at about 8am. After a few adjustments, it's all looking great. The video projector is released from customs but arrives damaged. Luckily, Silvia Blocher, the artist, astonishes herself by fixing it.

A stream of interviews with radio and TV begin at 9am and continue throughout the day. It's unfortunate that the media decide to concentrate on the sculpture of Diana Princess of Wales (left), when there are other interesting works as well.

The opening parties begin at 6pm and despite the wet and windy weather, queues have started to form. About 1,000 people arrive - it's the best turnout since Dal.

The Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, and I take part in a joint interview for BBC TV. He says it's important that people see the exhibition, but as a Christian he would prefer it if the focus was a continuous faith in God.

We have a party for the artists organised by Garlands, a local gay bar. Everyone feels the opening went well. I slip away at about 11pm.


I'm up at six for interviews with the Today programme and Radio Five Live. Then I head to the gallery to say good-bye to the artists and curators. Today the exhibition is open to the public.

I have a formal lunch with business leaders from across the region. Later I pick up my children from school, cook them dinner and then drop my daughter at a carol service she is performing in.


I spend the morning carrying out mundane management tasks. I have lunch with the new director of communications at Liverpool City Council. The Tate has links with galleries in Shanghai and New York, and we discuss how to promote Liverpool's image abroad. More meetings in the afternoon.

It's been an extremely satisfying week. The planning for Heaven took two years, but the result has more than fulfilled my expectations.