It’s Tate Liverpool’s 25th birthday this week and to celebrate we’re asking visitors to share their memories of the gallery with us in our free display Tate Liverpool is 25. Artist and Tate Directors’ Office Assistant Emma Sumner shares with us here her first experience of Tate Liverpool and how it has created a lasting impact

Bridget Riley, 'Hesitate' 1964

Bridget Riley
Hesitate 1964
Oil on canvas
support: 1067 x 1124 mm frame: 1155 x 1100 x 54 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1985© 2006 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved.

View the main page for this artwork

I was around seven years old when I declared to my parents that I wanted to be an artist! Born and bred on the outskirts of Liverpool, Tate was my first experience of contemporary and modern art. For me, it unlocked the possibilities of art and confirmed the impact art can have on our lives.

On one of my first visits, I turned a corner to see Bridget Riley’s Hesitate. I practically ran over to it, breathless with excitement and ready to be sucked in by its roller motion, never to return again. Riley was my first favourite artist and this was one of her ‘real life’ paintings. I even made a 1.5 metre tall top hat inspired by her vertical stripe paintings as part of my GCSE coursework. It’s an early work I’m still reluctant to part with.

Today I have many other much-loved artists but Riley’s work still stays close to my heart, and it was the impact of these early art encounters that has led me to work here. Who knew that years later I would be part of a team working to organise the gallery’s 25th Anniversary celebrations.

Tate Liverpool is 25 runs until 27 May 2013, free
Bridget Riley’s Hesitate is now on display in the BP Walk through British Art at Tate Britain

Comments

I was completing my GCSE art in the year that Tate Liverpool opened. I was living in London and, unlike you Emma, was not to visit the Albert Dock for many years. I did, however, share your passion for Bridget Riley and some of my own GCSE coursework was inspired by this very painting, so it's lovely to read about your own Riley homage.

I was delighted to discover Hesitate, along with the absolutely gorgeous Nataraja (http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/riley-nataraja-t06859), included in the new collection hang at Tate Britain.

Whereas some artists I enthused about in the past have lost their appeal with time, I have never lost an ounce of that original excitement I felt over the work of Bridget Riley when I first came across it about 30 years ago. She is one of those very rare figures in the history of art who has single-handedly reinvented the visual language of her art form and, somehow, the work of such artists never seems to lose its freshness and intensity of vision (I'm thinking of artists such as Polykleitos, Giotto, Van Eyck, Caravaggio, David, Cézanne ... and Yes, I really would place Riley in that league). Riley may not have many obvious followers, but I like to think that's because she's just too good to imitate! And, though her work may not be seen as very fashionable in the art world today, I'm confident that people will continue to be excited by her paintings 500 years from now (and long after Damien Hirst's mechanical spot paintings have been forgotten).