Editor's Note

Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone 1938 is an iconic surrealist object, now almost shorthand for the movement’s technique of combining items to create something playful yet menacing, familiar but unsettling – in other words, surreal. However, at Tate Modern’s exhibition Surrealism Beyond Borders, opening in April, Dalí’s telephone is just a starting point for a retelling of the art movement. As art historian Dawn Ades writes, surrealism is one of the 20th century’s most complex and far-reaching art revolutions, moving beyond Paris and the West (and a host of recognisable names) to encompass the whole world. One of the two Tate Etc. covers we’ve produced to celebrate this exhibition features the Japanese artist Koga Harue’s majestic painting Umi (The Sea) 1929, an artwork emblematic of this new story of surrealism.

The idea of movement runs like a thread through many of the articles in this issue. Photographer Liz Johnson Artur talks about her powerful photographs, which record the Black Lives Matter marches in London in 2020 for the ‘test of time’, and artist Hew Locke discusses migration and the complexities of ‘Britishness’ in the build-up to his major new sculptural commission for Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries. In her regular column, Jennifer Higgie interrogates our tendency to categorise art into ‘movements’, and a dancer who will be performing Trisha Brown’s dance piece Set and Reset at Tate Modern later this year speaks to us about ‘playing with momentum’ and what it’s like to feel like you’re flying. Movement can be virtual as well as physical: in a Q&A, artist Danielle Dean discusses the geographically dislocated network of global labour in her Art Now project about two different Amazons.

Movement is also at the heart of a major new collection display opening at Tate Liverpool in February. Taking Liverpool’s historical status as a port as its starting point, the display will explore how the city has been shaped by the transatlantic slave trade, the movement of goods and people, the connections that have been formed across continents, and its diverse communities. Reflecting on the activity of artists and activists, workers and protestors, waves and tides, four artists describe what this city means to them.

Elsewhere in these pages, you’ll find a new short story by novelist A.K.Blakemore, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Hisham Matar on the messages he both sees and hears in a painting by Ibrahim El-Salahi, and a new perspective on the lives of George Stubbs’s haymakers by Nathalie Olah. We also revisit one of Tate’s most popular works of installation art – captured mid-explosion.

We hope you enjoy it.
Tate Etc.

This issue is dedicated to Achim Borchardt- Hume, Director of Exhibitions and Programmes, Tate Modern, who sadly passed away in November 2021.


  • ‘When he paints a portrait I read a life’

    Matthew Krishanu , Andrew Cranston , Thomas Kennedy , Kaye Donachie , Somaya Critchlow , Merlin James and Louise Giovanelli

    Walter Sickert’s radical paintings pushed British art into the 20th century, transforming the representation of everyday life. Here, before the opening of the first exhibition dedicated to him at Tate since 1960, we ask six leading painters what Sickert’s art means to them today

  • The Power of Pattern

    Lubaina Himid

    Artist Lubaina Himid grew up surrounded by conversations about colour and pattern. Here, she describes these formative experiences and how they inform her art today

  • Surrealism, but Not as You Know It

    Dawn Ades

    While many stories of surrealism have focused on Paris in the 1920s, the revolutionary movement inspired and united artists around the world. Over the past century surrealism has been expressed in distinct ways in response to local concerns, always reflecting its core aims to subvert reality, challenge authority and imagine new worlds

  • Waves and Tides

    John Akomfrah , Vanley Burke , Sumuyya Khader , Mark Leckey , Helen Legg and Darren Pih

    Tate Liverpool Director Helen Legg and Curator Darren Pih discuss the new collection display at the gallery, and the city as an enduring centre of movement. Plus, four artists with long-standing connections to Liverpool discuss how the city has shaped their life and work

  • Q&A: Danielle Dean

    The artist talks about her Art Now commission which addresses the labour conditions of two parallel Amazons: a rainforest work camp and the ubiquitous e-commerce company

  • Time don't run here

    From March to June 2020, Liz Johnson Artur photographed protestors at Black Lives Matter marches in London. Here, she speaks to Senior Curator Yasufumi Nakamori about the ensuing series, titled Time don’t run here, and the themes of difference, conflict and connection in her photography

  • On Listening

    Hisham Matar

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer turns his eyes, and his ears, to Ibrahim El-Salahi’s painting Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I

  • Empathy Not Erasure

    Ahead of her first solo museum exhibition in the UK, Tate Etc. talks to artist Thao Nguyen Phan about the inspiration behind her new work, the power of place, and how art can rewrite official histories

  • A Sense of Belonging through Style

    The front room of a West Indian family home in the 1960s and 1970s was a space of sanctuary, conveying a burgeoning Black British style as well as memories of a life left behind. Michael McMillan talks to a photographer and a fashion designer about these ideas