Brian Tolle Waylay 2002

Brian Tolle
Water, electronic and mechanical components
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica With thanks to Bill Broadbent, British Waterways, Dave Murray and the dive team from Glaciere Sailing and Diving © Brian Tolle

Waylay awakens ghostly traces of history. Installed in water, the work exists as a series of sporadic splashes, sometimes playful, as if made by a child skimming stones, sometimes more sinister, as if something unknown were falling from the sky. Catching viewers unawares, the Waylay activates space, encouraging contemplation of the site in which it is located.

Submerged in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, Waylay activates the complex history of a site at times inextricably linked to the economic status of the city. In its heyday Liverpool controlled forty percent of the world’s maritime trade and became one of the richest cities in the country. Profiting greatly from the slave trade, the dock has at times also had a darker role. However, the advent of steam liners, too large for the dock to accommodate, and the gradual decline of the maritime industry ultimately led to a massive loss of income for the city – its impact still felt and visible. In the wake of the Toxteth riots in 1981, the Albert Dock complex was one of the first sites of regeneration and is now one of the city’s most important tourist attractions.