Patrick Keiller To Create Tate Britain Commission For 2012

Artist and film-maker Patrick Keiller, will create an ambitious new project for the Tate Britain Commission 2012, supported by Sotheby’s. His unique installation, developed especially for the neoclassical Duveen galleries at the heart of Tate Britain, will be unveiled on 27 March 2012. The Tate Britain Commission invites an artist to develop a new work in response to the Tate Collection, highlighting the continuum of visual and intellectual ideas between historic and contemporary art.

Patrick Keiller is one of Britain’s most critically acclaimed independent film-makers.  Over the past 30 years he has developed a range of imaginative and highly original films which combine deadpan images of British landscape, rural and urban, with a witty narration which draws together wide-ranging literary anecdotes, historical episodes, current affairs, economic critique and offbeat humour.

The most notable examples of Keiller’s distinctive approach to film-making are the series of essay films that chart the progress of the fictional character Robinson, an elusive would-be scholar who wanders the English landscape, taking the viewer on unpredictable journeys. Robinson visits sites as well-known as the Bank of England or Blackpool, and others less so: the site of a meteorite fall in Oxfordshire in 1830, and nearby scenes of agrarian rebellion. With incisive commentary, voiced by Paul Scofield and latterly Vanessa Redgrave, the first in the series, London (1994), presents a witty portrait of a city in decline, while Robinson in Space (1997) offers an exploration of England’s economic landscape in the 1990s and the recent  Robinson in Ruins (2010) recounts Robinson’s travels in search of the origins of ‘capitalist catastrophe’.

In other work Keiller has explored ways of assembling and displaying film beyond the familiar cinema format, creating what the artist describes as ‘moving image landscapes’. For the large-scale installation Londres, Bombay (2006) for Le Fresnoy, Lille, the artist created a 30 screen moving image reconstruction of Mumbai’s railway station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, one of the largest gothic revival stations in the world. In another installation, The City of the Future (2007) shown at BFI gallery the artist created a virtual landscape of the UK at the turn of the 20th century.

In his work for the Commission, Patrick Keiller will explore the Duveen Galleries’ spatial and other possibilities. He comments: “As someone most usually involved with images and the linearity of narrative, I’m delighted by the invitation to devise an exhibit for a sculpture gallery.”

Penelope Curtis, Director, Tate Britain, added: ‘Patrick Keiller’s sustained interest in understanding the British landscape and how it is represented strikes a perfect chord with the Tate Collection.  We are delighted that he has accepted our invitation to work with us in compiling a new installation which brings the old and the new together, and shows how similar concerns run through time.’ 

Head of Contemporary Art Sotheby’s Europe, Cheyenne Westphal, commented: ‘We are very proud to be supporting Tate for the fourth year. Sotheby’s sponsorship of the Tate Britain Commission in 2012 will allow the work of a British Contemporary artist to be exhibited on this international and well-known stage.’

Patrick Keiller was born in Blackpool in 1950. He studied architecture at University College London and fine art in the Department of Environmental Media at the RCA, where he began making films. Since the 1980s, his work has been widely exhibited in the UK and elsewhere, and includes commissions from the Arts Council, the British Film Institute, the BBC and Channel 4.


The Tate Britain Commission by Patrick Keiller will be the latest in an ongoing series of contemporary sculpture commissions in the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain which address the heritage of the space as a sculpture gallery. This revised format for the commission will take the Duveens Commission in a new direction by inviting artists to respond specifically to works in the Tate Collection. Artists who have previously undertaken sculpture commissions in the Duveens at Tate Britain include Fiona Banner (2010), Eva Rothschild (2009), Martin Creed (2008), Mark Wallinger (2007), Michael Landy (2004), Anya Gallaccio (2002) and Mona Hatoum (2000).

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